Summary and book reviews of Fame by Daniel Kehlmann

Fame

A Novel in Nine Episodes

by Daniel Kehlmann

Fame by Daniel Kehlmann
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2010, 192 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2011, 192 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

In Fame, nine episodes coalesce to form a coherent whole as Daniel Kehlmann plays a sophisticated game with reality and fiction - creating, in essence, a dazzling hall of mirrors.

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.

Translated by Carol Brown Janeway.

Voices

Even before Ebling reached home, his cell phone rang. For years he had refused to buy one, because he was a technician and didn't trust the thing. Why did nobody wonder about whether it was a good idea to clutch a power­ful source of radiation to your head? But Ebling had a wife, two children, and a handful of acquaintances, and one of them was always complaining that he was unreachable. So finally he'd given in and bought a phone, which he asked the guy he bought it from to activate immediately. In spite of himself, he was impressed: it was absolutely perfect, beautifully designed, smooth lines, elegant. And now, without warning, it was ringing.
 
Very hesitantly, he picked up.
 
A woman asked for someone called Raff, Ralf, or Rauff, he couldn't figure out the name. A mistake, he said, wrong number. She apologized and hung up.
 
That evening, the next call. "Ralf!" The man's voice was loud and hoarse. "What gives, what are you up to, you...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
  • award image

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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).

Full Review Members Only (648 words).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A brazen take on the modern yearning for recognition. Kehlmann is a writer worth reading.

Booklist

Starred Review. Kehlmann showcases a flair for devious satire.

Publishers Weekly

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.

Author Blurb Jonathan Franzen
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.

Reader Reviews

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

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Books in Translation

In a now-infamous statement preceding the awarding of the 2008 Nobel Prize in literature to French author Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, Swedish Academy member Horace Engdahl remarked that the publishing climate in the United States had grown "too isolated, too insular. They don't translate enough and don't really participate in the big dialogue of literature." It's true that no American has won the Nobel Prize in literature since Toni Morrison did so in 1993. However, partly in defiance of Engdahl's statement, and partly in response to the recent run of prizewinners not writing in English, some American publishers are rediscovering the sometimes heady, sometimes just downright entertaining bounty of literature originally written in other ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Fame, try these:

  • A Visit from the Goon Squad jacket

    A Visit from the Goon Squad

    by Jennifer Egan

    Published 2011

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    A Visit from the Goon Squad is a book about the interplay of time and music, about survival, about the stirrings and transformations set inexorably in motion by even the most passing conjunction of our fates. Sly, startling, exhilarating work from one of our boldest writers.

  • Invisible jacket

    Invisible

    by Paul Auster

    Published 2010

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    “One of America’s greatest novelists” dazzlingly reinvents the coming-of-age story in his most passionate and surprising book to date.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Pachinko
    Pachinko
    by Min Jin Lee
    Pachinko has one of the best opening lines I've encountered in some time: "History has failed us, ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Summer Before the War
    by Helen Simonson
    Set on the cusp of World War I, The Summer Before the War exudes strength and spirit as a small town...
  • Book Jacket: Lincoln in the Bardo
    Lincoln in the Bardo
    by George Saunders
    George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo is a philosophy discourse brilliantly disguised as a ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Sellout
by Paul Beatty

The first book by an American author to win the prestigious Man Booker Prize.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Fifth Petal
    by Brunonia Barry

    Beloved author Brunonia Barry returns to the world of The Lace Reader with this spellbinding new thriller.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    I See You
    by Clare Mackintosh

    A dark and compelling thriller about an everyday woman trapped in the confines of her everyday world.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

A book may be compared to your neighbor; if it be good, it cannot last too long; if bad, you cannot get rid of it...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

K Your F C

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.