If you read German, you probably already know how good Daniel Kehlmann’s 2009 novel Ruhm is. The rest of us had to wait till this week to find out. The English translation, Fame, was released Tuesday, and we were so hooked by the intriguing, interwoven stories, we couldn’t put it down.
The Austrian author, who’s won a slew of European literary prizes, brings nine people’s lives together. There’s Ebling, a workaday man who has accidentally been assigned a cell phone number that already belongs to a popular actor. Then there is Leo, a well-known writer who pulls out of a speaking engagement at the last minute, changing the course of the life of the person who went in his place. You meet the aforementioned actor, whose identity has been usurped by someone better at being him than he ever was (but it’s not the guy with his phone number!), and an awkward telecommunications employee whose self-importance resides on the Internet. There are others, of course, and at times it’s all a bit of a puzzle.
Before you know it, you’ll have flown through the slender collection, then bid it a fond auf Wiedersehen.
Available online at amazon.com, $17.
Photo: Courtesy of Pantheon Books
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