Fame: A Novel in Nine Episodes (Paperback)
I picked up Daniel Kehlmann's Fame because I was intrigued by the subtitle "A Novel in Nine Episodes." Linked or interconnected short stories is currently my favorite genre, and Fame is the best book I've read of this type in quite a while. A rather existential read, reminiscent of Charles Baxter's The Soul Thief as well as Paul Auster's work, I absolutely loved this study of identity: who we really are, who we strive to be, or even the "self" we yearn to escape from. The book has no main protagonist, with the three common characters (two authors and a movie star) mysteriously popping up in various episodes of the book. It begins when a new cell phone user begins to receive calls not for himself but for some guy named Ralf, who we find out later is the movie star. As the phone owner continues to answer calls for Ralf, he starts to play with the idea of actually being Ralf, laying bare the first issue of identity. Later, the real Ralf (or is it really the real Ralf?) shows up, along with other characters, who actually may or may not be characters in the novels of the authors in the story. And who is the narrator anyway!? Both the technology of the cell phone as well as glass or mirrors are referred to in almost every story, leaving you not really knowing who is who, and even if they really exist until the very end of the book, when it all comes full circle and you realize what a brilliant read this really is! -- Linda Grana— From February 2012
Fame and facelessness, truth and deception, spin their way through the nine interlocking chapters of this captivating and wickedly funny novel by the internationally bestselling author of Measuring the World.
No one is more surprised than Ebling when his new cell phone begins receiving calls meant for popular actor Ralf Tanner. At first he tries to set the callers right, but soon he is enjoying the drama and power that celebrity brings. Little does he know that his actions will cause a ripple effect that will leave very few lives untouched, from the movie star himself to those lingering at the edges of the limelight. And as paths cross and plots thicken, the boundaries of fiction and reality start to crumble.
About the Author
Daniel Kehlmann’s Measuring the World was translated into more than forty languages. Awards his work has received include the Candide Prize, the Literature Prize of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Heimito von Doderer Literature Award, the Kleist Prize, the WELT Literature Prize, and the Thomas Mann Prize. Kehlmann divides his time between Vienna and Berlin.
“A darkly comic masterpiece, a rare and thrilling example of a philosophical novel as pleasurable as it is thought-provoking.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Who would have thought contemporary Central European literature could be so fun and so funny?. . . A real beauty of a book, farcical, satiric, melancholic, and humane.” —Jonathan Franzen, author of Freedom
“Dazzling. . . . Has satirical bite and technical sparkle.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Combines the geeky adventure of Stephenson with the icy wit that Paul Auster was once known for. . . . Engaging, provocative entertainment.” —Los Angeles Times
“Kafka for the Facebook-famous generation.” —Time Out New York
“This slim, funny, provocative book justifies its structure brilliantly. . . . The stories in Fame make a terrific case for the way fiction enables us to lead double lives—and then, at the stories’ end, to go home.” —The Boston Globe
“[A] brilliant study of the fragility and interconnectedness of life. . . . Layers of conection, irony, despair, and humor distinguish this masterful work.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The real subject of Kehlmann’s book is language: its fiery possibilities of granting us a name, its humiliating shortcomings in telling who we are, its ignominious deceits and false promises, its ingenious devices to help us translate the experience of ourselves into the experience of another. . . . An extraordinary feat.” —The Guardian (London)
“Fame is a Nabokovian puzzle, a game of hide-and-seek, and a playful reflection on cultural renown and the lack thereof. . . . Kehlmann has Nabokov’s and Barth’s love of false leads, false bottoms, and, perhaps, false dichotomies.” —Bookforum
“In Kehlmann’s wickedly clever novel, fame is something his cast of widely disparate characters seek, avoid, flirt with, and succumb to. . . . [They are] luminous creations, and the coincidental devices that link them are brilliant gambits. Kehlmann showcases a flair for devious satire.” —Booklist (starred review)
“We were so hooked by the intriguing, interwoven stories, we couldn’t put it down.” —Gawker
“[A] darkly comic tour de force. . . . A brazen take on the modern yearning for recognition. Kehlmann is a writer worth reading.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)