Quercus £7.99 (206pp) £7.59 from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Fame, By Daniel Kehlmann
Boyd Tonkin is Senior Writer and a columnist at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Literary Editor at The Independent, and before that Social Policy Editor and then Books Editor at the New Statesman magazine. He has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes and has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize. In 2001, he re-founded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for literature in translation, and serves on its judging panel every year.
Friday 14 October 2011
This "novel in nine episodes" from the Austrian maestro takes us deep into that new space where networked gadgetry reconfigures private souls and public roles.
In deftly interlinked stories of technology, celebrity and mortality, clever metafictional games coincide with unironic reflections on loneliness, and ageing. Kehlmann plays his modish material for laughs, but also packs a punch.
Smart, comic but moving, the stories (translated by Carol Brown Janeway) shift from chat-room geek-speak to the touching melancholia of a sick woman at a suicide clinic, and the terminal fantasies of a Paolo Coelho-style New Age guru.
For all its tricks and ruses, Fame emits a steady signal of compassion for bewildered humans caught in the grip of the modern machine.
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