F is for family. F is for fortune. F is for fraud. F is for fate.
From the internationally acclaimed author of Measuring the World, here is a dazzling tragicomedy about three brothers whose father takes on the occult and both wins and loses.
Arthur is a dilettante, a wannabe writer who decides to fill an afternoon by taking his three young sons to a performance by the Great Lindemann, Master of Hypnosis. While allowing one of them to be called onto the stage and made a spectacle of, Arthur declares himself to be immune to hypnosis and a disbeliever in all magic. But the Great Lindemann knows better. He gets Arthur to tell him his deepest secrets and then tells him to make them real. That night, Arthur empties the family bank account, takes his passport, and vanishes. He’s going to become a world-famous author, a master of the mystical. (F is for fake.)
But what of the boys? Martin, painfully shy, grows up to be a Catholic priest without a vocation. (F is for faith, and lack of it.) Eric becomes a financier (F is for fraud), losing touch with reality as he faces ruin, while Ivan, destined for glory as a painter, instead becomes a forger. (F is for forgery, too.) They’ve settled into their life choices, but when the summer of the global financial crisis dawns they’re thrown together again with cataclysmic results.
Wildly funny, heartbreaking, tragic, Daniel Kehlmann’s novel about truth, family, and the terrible power of fortune is a fictional triumph.
Three brothers struggle to find their place in the world in this novel from German author Kehlmann (Fame). Middling writer Arthur Friedland spends his days penning novels no publisher would print and his off-hours devising ways to entertain his three sons: identical twins Ivan and Eric, and an older son, Martin, from a previous marriage. One afternoon, the foursome go to see "The Great Lindemann," a hypnotist whose words of advice prompt Arthur to go home, empty his bank account, and vanish, emerging years later as a successful, if eccentric, author. Meanwhile, Martin, Ivan, and Eric spend the next few decades dealing with their feelings of abandonment. Martin has become a shiftless priest who doesn't believe in God; painter Ivan feels disillusioned with the very concept of art; and money manager Eric is losing both his mind and his Ponzi scheme of a business. Together, the hapless trio face their existential crises. Kehlmann sometimes presents the same scene from different brothers' perspectives, thereby illuminating their skewed experiences of the world. The novel that emerges is both bizarre and bleakly humorous, a slim manifesto on the divide between people's dreams and their destinies.