Imagine being famous. Being recognized on the street, adored by people who have never even met you, known the world over. Wouldn't that be great?
But what if, one day, you got stuck in a country where celebrity means nothing, where no one spoke your language and you didn't speak theirs, where no one knew your face (no book jackets, no TV) and you had no way of calling home? How would your fame help you then?
What if someone got hold of your cell phone? What if they spoke to your girlfriends, your agent, your director, and started making decisions for you? And worse, what if no one believed you were you anymore? When you saw a look-alike acting your roles for you, what would you do?
And what if one day you realized your magnum opus, like everything else you'd ever written, was a total waste of time, empty nonsense? What would you do next? Would your audience of seven million people keep you going? Or would you lose the capacity to keep on doing it?
Fame and facelessness, truth and deception, spin their way through all nine episodes of this captivating, wickedly funny, and perpetually surprising novel as paths cross and plots thicken, as characters become real people and real people morph into characters. The result is a dazzling tour de force by one of Europe's finest young writers.
Daniel Kehlmann's novel can be read, in many ways, as an extended exploration of the distinctions between artifice and reality or, more precisely, between story and "real life," whatever that consists of. Defining that distinction - only to blur it again repeatedly - is the ongoing project of Kehlmann's brilliantly playful novel... With energy, flexibility, and elegance, Kehlmann constructs a brilliant whole, simultaneously playful and thoughtful, certainly the kind of novel that engages readers emotionally and intellectually in equal measure. (Reviewed by Norah Piehl).
Starred Review. A brazen take on the modern yearning for recognition. Kehlmann is a writer worth reading.
Starred Review. Kehlmann showcases a flair for devious satire.
Starred Review. [A] brilliant study of the fragility and interconnectedness of life... Layers of connection, irony, despair, and humor distinguish this masterful work and announce Kehlmann as a worthy heir to Bowles and Camus.
The Guardian - Alberto Manguel
In Kehlmann's hands, language sometimes grows into baroque excrescences and convolutions, sometimes shrinks down to cryptic text messages, as if trying through the very large and the very small to cover all possibilities for expressing our everyday world. Carol Brown Janeway's translation is an extraordinary feat: she has been able to render, with humour and verisimilitude, and without the slightest feeling of artificiality, the various styles and vocabularies that Kehlmann so deftly uses.
Who would have thought contemporary Central European literature could be so fun and so funny? ...Modern fame may have been invented in America, but nobody has dramatized its paradoxes and heartbreaks more entertainingly than the European Kehlmann does here.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Linda Grana A Gem For The Surrealist Linked or interconnected short stories is currently my favorite genre, and "Fame" is the best book I've read in this genre in quite awhile. Reminiscent of Charles Baxter's "The Soul Thief", as well as Paul Auster's work, I... Read More
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