In this podcast from the Center for the Art of Translation, bestselling German author Daniel Kehlmann reads from and talks about his new "novel in stories," Fame.
Kehlmann leapt on the English-language scene with the novel Measuring the World, which received comparisons to Thomas Pynchon and Neal Stephenson and has sold nearly 2 million copies worldwide. Fame did over 100,000 copies in its first week in Germany, and it's already getting the kind of attention in the U.S. that all but a few translated novels get.
As Kehlmann himself has noted, Fame is very different from the novel that made him "famous." Measuring the World was a postmodern historical novel that told the thematically intertwined stories the mathematician Carl Gauss and the explorer Alexander von Humboldt. Each "measures the world" in his own way.
Kehlmann's new novel tells nine separate stories, each with recurring characters and overlapping themes. Here, Kehlmann explores what technologies like cell phones and Facebook are doing to our sense of identity, as well as our concepts of fame. Characters have their lives turned upside down by cell phones, an actor changes places with his impersonator, a woman discovers she's a character in someone else's book, and a blogger longs to be a character in a novel.