From the internationally acclaimed author of Measuring the World, here is a dazzling tragicomedy about the three sons of a lost father.
Arthur Friedland is a wannabe writer who one day takes his sons to a performance by the Great Lindemann, Master of Hypnosis. Arthur declares himself immune to hypnosis and a disbeliever in magic. But the Great Lindemann knows better, and after he extracts Arthur’s deepest secrets and tells him to make them real, Arthur empties the family bank account and vanishes. He goes on to become a world-famous author, a master of the mystical. (F is for fake.) But what of his abandoned boys? The painfully shy Martin grows up to be a priest without a vocation. (F is for faith, and lack of it.) Eric becomes a financier on the brink of ruin (F is for fraud), while Ivan, hoping for glory as a painter, instead becomes a forger. (F is for forgery, too.) During the summer before the global financial crisis, they are thrown together again with cataclysmic results. Wildly funny and heartbreaking, Daniel Kehlmann’s novel about truth, family, and the terrible power of fortune is a fictional triumph.
“Elegant. . . . A subtly yet masterly constructed puzzle cube. . . . With its sly Möbius-strip-like connectedness, [it] doesn’t just hint at the possibility of a plan behind the scenes; it enacts that plan in the very telling.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A lollapalooza of a family comedy, diabolically intricate in its layering of concurrent narratives and dryly hilarious at every mazelike turn. . . . F is splashed with vivacious, hilarious characters and incidents that, with distance and time, transmogrify into something quite sinister indeed.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Kehlmann’s strange and endlessly provoking novel . . . [is] not merely clever but suggestive and powerful. . . . But the deepest delights—delights that offer consolation in a faithless or fake world—are to be found in the novel’s beautiful and cunning construction, and in its brilliantly self-interrogating form.” —The New Yorker
“Kehlmann’s . . . musings on religion, art and life are intellectually rigorous, and his plotting masterful in the linking of the story’s separate narratives with overlaps that, when revealed, surprise and shock. . . . [His] rendering of life’s mysteries . . . allows the reader a window to another world.” —NPR, All Things Considered
“Each son’s tale reads like a satisfying novella, and the three eventually dovetail in a way that surprises without feeling overdetermined. . . . [Kehlmann] shows off many talents in F. He’s adept at aphorism, brainy humor and dreamlike sequences. And he keeps the pages lightly turning while musing deeply.” —The New York Times
“A rich, absorbing and well-orchestrated narrative.” —Boston Globe
“A comic tour de force, a biting satire on the hypnotised world of artificial wants and needs that Huxley predicted, a moving study of brotherhood and family failure, F is an astonishing book, a work of deeply satisfying (and never merely clever) complexity. . . . Yet F is also much more than an intricate puzzle: it is a novel of astonishing beauty, psychological insight and, finally, compassion, a book that, in a world of fakes and manufactured objects of desire, is the real article, a bona-fide, inimitable masterpiece.” —The Times Literary Supplement (London)
“The hallmarks of [Kehlmann’s] style are speed, wit and a nuanced appreciation of the absurd. . . . He’s a specialist in the kind of irony that tells us more about a character, and ourselves, than sincerity ever could.” —Guernicamag.com
“A testament to the fact that conceptual novels need not be devoid of people and that family novels need not be devoid of ideas and that some darkly funny, smart absurdity is always a good idea.” —Flavorwire
“A tightly constructed exploration of filial tension and adult struggle. . . . As Kehlmann’s characters lay bare their troubled souls, we get a view that is comic and affecting.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“What a strange and beautiful novel, hovering on the misty borders of the abstract and the real. Three brilliant character studies in the brothers—religion, money and art—what else is there? The answer, Kehlmann suggests, without ever saying so, is love, and its lack is the essence of the failures of all three. But while these fates unroll in the idiom of psychological realism, there is a cooler geometry working on the reader, a painterly sense of the symmetry in human fates. It’s a deeply writerly novel with a stout backbone of wonderful characterization. High achievement.” —Ian McEwan
“With the wizardry of a puzzle master Daniel Kehlmann permutes the narrative pieces of this Rubik’s Cube of a story—involving a lost father and his three sons—into a solution that clicks into position with a deep thrill of narrative and emotional satisfaction. Kehlmann is one of the brightest, most pleasure-giving writers at work today, and he manages all this while exploring matters of deep philosophical and intellectual import. He deserves to have more readers in the United States.” —Jeffrey Eugenides
“An intricate, beautiful novel in multiple disguises: a family saga, a fable, and a high-speed farce. But then, what else would you expect? Daniel Kehlmann is one of the great novelists for making giant themes seem light.” —Adam Thirlwell