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F: A Novel Hardcover – August 26, 2014

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; Reissue edition (August 26, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307911810
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307911810
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


A New York Times Notable Book

“As with Thomas Pynchon’s ‘V,’ or Tom McCarthy’s ‘C,’ in Daniel Kehlmann’s subtly yet masterly constructed puzzle cube of a new novel, readers and characters alike exist for a time in that hazy uncertain land, where there is not only the desire but the need to solve for x—or, in Kehlmann’s case, ‘F’ . . . translated deftly from the German by Carol Brown Janeway . . . ambitious . . . elegant.” —Joseph Salvatore, New York Times Book Review
“Kehlmann’s prose is sophisticated and often dense, his 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 the reader. . . . Kehlmann’s rendering of life’s mysteries. . . allow the reader a window to another world. . . as if looking (and listening) through clear, highly polished glass).”—NPR, All Things Considered
“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 that reveals yet another side of a prolifically inventive writer who never does the same thing twice. That one of its central motifs is the Rubik’s Cube is highly apt. . . . 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 

 “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] 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
“The hallmarks of [Kehlmann’s] style are speed, wit and a nuanced appreciation of the absurd. He often writes about geniuses and fools and the thin line between them. 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. Well worth a read.” —Flavorwire.com
F gets an A.” —Harold Brubaker, Philadelphia Inquirer
“A tightly constructed exploration of filial tension and adult struggle. . . . a novel about ordinary people’s self-discoveries. . . as Kehlmann’s characters lay bare their troubled souls, we get a view that is comic and affecting”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Kehlmann is a writer of great craft and imagination.” —Adam Lively, The Sunday Times
“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
F is 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

About the Author

Daniel Kehlmann was born in Munich in 1975 and lives in Berlin and New York. His works have won the Candide Prize, the Doderer Prize, the Kleist Prize, the Welt Literature Prize, and the Thomas Mann Prize. Measuring the World was translated into more than forty languages and is one of the greatest successes in postwar German literature.

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Customer Reviews

It takes a brilliant mind to craft such a story.
Wilhelmina Zeitgeist
Interesting ideas but ultimately I found it depressing and bleak in its outlook on life.
James M Floss
The end may leave you alarmed, or wanting, or a little bit of both.
"switterbug" Betsey Van Horn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Succinct Reviews VINE VOICE on September 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The promo copy, and reviews, of this book intrigued me. I was looking forward to diving into this book. "F" starts off when Arthur and his three sons go to see a show featuring a hypnotist. During the show, Arthur reluctantly participates as a volunteer from the audience. After he leaves the show, he drops his children off and disappears. He abandons his family to pursue his life long dream of becoming a successful author.

The chapters that follow look at the lives of the three sons as adults. Martin becomes a priest - even though he doesn't believe in God. Eric is a successful shady banker, until he loses all of his clients investments, and Ivan wants to be a successful painter, but ends up being an art critic who paints under another painter's name. All of the stories have potential, but fall short. I honestly didn't care about any of the characters and found them all to be self-centered and annoying. I know there is supposed to be a bigger message about "fate," "family, or "faith" - these are all referenced in the book - but it gets lost in the mundane actions of the characters.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Miss Barbara TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
F by Daniel Kehlmann (translated from German by Carol Brown Janeway) opens with failed author, Arthur Freidland taking his three sons, Martin and twins Ivan and Eric, to see hypnotist The Great Lindemann. Arthur, who does not believe in hypnosis, is called to the stage where Lindemann whispers something in his ear. Instead of returning home Arthur drops off his sons and disappears from their lives along with the family savings.

The story itself follows the lives of the three boys after they grow into men. Martin, master of Rubik's Cube, joins the priesthood although he does not believe in God. Eric becomes a Jordan Belfort wannabee and faces losing all of the funds of his investors through shoddy behavior. Ivan is an artist, art commentator and fraud.

The story unfolds in six chapters all of which are an integral part of the whole but many of which can stand on their own as a solid and well written short story. Each chapter has its own theme the most interesting of which is titled "Family" and is written in the style paralleling Genesis: Chapter 5, where the lineage of the family is laid out for many generations. The only thing missing is the "begats".

This is a fascinating, well written and unconventional story. I personally think that the perfect review is written inside the book itself, chapter 2: "The sentences are well constructed, the narrative has a powerful flow, the reader would be enjoying the text were it not for a persistent feeling of somehow being mocked....But there is a sense that no sentence means merely what it says, that the story is observing its own progress, and that in truth the protagonist is not the central figure: the central figure is the reader, who is all too complicit in the unfolding of events".

This is a unique and well-constructed read. I hope you enjoy it as much as I.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Peterson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 25, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The conventional answer presumably would be "Friedland", which is the surname of the four males who dominate the novel. Arthur is a reclusive writer, whose most successful novel was "My Name Is No One". Arthur has three sons, one by his first wife, whom he abandoned, and twins by a second wife, whom he also abandoned. From time to time, he shows up unexpectedly in the lives of his family. His oldest son, Martin, is an overweight priest who is addicted to Rubik's Cube and is searching for Faith. One of the twins, Ivan, set out to be a painter, but he was not successful so he became an art forger of sorts and then a dealer and market-setter of the man whose art he forged. The other twin, Eric, became a highly successful investment advisor before succumbing to the temptations of operating a Ponzi scheme.

The novel consists of six chapters. The first is set in 1984, and in addition to introducing Arthur and his three sons it features Lindermann, a hypnotist who reappears later in the novel as an aged soothsayer. The next four chapters are narrated in the first person by a different one of the four Friedland males. The one narrated by Arthur is a genealogy of the male forebears, going back to the Middle Ages. The three chapters narrated by the sons all take place on the same fateful day -- August 8, 2008 (8/8/08 for those looking for astrological explanations, which the novel seems to invite). Each of the three sons experiences a crisis of sorts and each has a separate encounter (for one of them, a fatal encounter) involving a youth named Ron wearing a T-shirt reading "Bubbletea is not a drink I like." The last chapter, where the narrative mode reverts to third-person, takes place at a memorial mass for one of the four Friedlands.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Miller VINE VOICE on September 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
So, Arthur takes his three sons to the performance of a hypnotist. Within the performance, Arthur decides that he absolutely cannot be hypnotized. He's wrong, and the hypnotist gets him to share all of his secrets and then act upon his dreams. This leads to Arthur running off and abandoning his life. He does go on to become a successful writer though. After Arthur, we take a look at his three sons who grow up and become much less than they should be. Martin becomes a priest even though he does not believe in God. Eric becomes a crooked banker that is very wealthy until he loses all of his clients money. Ivan trains to become an artist, but instead becomes an art critic who is excellent at forgery. While their lives do intersect, the story is mainly about them separate.

My thoughts:
This was an odd book. There were a lot of pieces coming together and at first I was trying to make connections. I wouldn't recommend you doing that. This is a book you need to just take it as it comes. The pieces come together at the end, but it takes awhile to see all of those. While this book was okay, it definitely takes dedication to get through it.
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