A brilliant, riotous historical novel with an unforgettable folkloric hero, by the prize-winning, bestselling author of Measuring the World
'A masterly achievement, a work of imaginative grandeur and complete artistic control' Ian McEwan
'Brilliant and unputdownable' Salman Rushdie
He's a trickster, a player, a jester. His handshake's like a pact with the devil, his smile like a crack in the clouds; he's watching you now and he's gone when you turn. Tyll Ulenspiegel is here!
In a village like every other village in Germany, a scrawny boy balances on a rope between two trees. He's practising. He practises by the mill, by the blacksmiths; he practises in the forest at night, where the Cold Woman whispers and goblins roam. When he comes out, he will never be the same.
Tyll will escape the ordinary villages. In the mines he will defy death. On the battlefield he will run faster than cannonballs. In the courts he will trick the heads of state. As a travelling entertainer, his journey will take him across the land and into the heart of a never-ending war.
A prince's doomed acceptance of the Bohemian throne has European armies lurching brutally for dominion and now the Winter King casts a sunless pall. Between the quests of fat counts, witch-hunters and scheming queens, Tyll dances his mocking fugue; exposing the folly of kings and the wisdom of fools.
With macabre humour and moving humanity, Daniel Kehlmann lifts this legend from medieval German folklore and enters him on the stage of the Thirty Years' War. When citizens become the playthings of politics and puppetry, Tyll, in his demonic grace and his thirst for freedom, is the very spirit of rebellion - a cork in water, a laugh in the dark, a hero for all time.
A beautiful, engrossing and fascinatingly structured novel. Lucid, limpid, savage. Tyll quietly intrudes on our present crisis of European identity. Have four centuries made us any wiser? This novel is a masterly achievement, a work of imaginative grandeur and complete artistic control - Ian McEwan
This is a brilliant and unputdownable novel. Kehlmann is the true inheritor of the German fabulist tradition that stretches back to the Brothers Grimm and even further, and in the legendary prankster figure of Tyll Ulenspiegel he has found his perfect avatar - Salman Rushdie
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 - Jonathan Franzen
Daniel Kehlmann is one of the great novelists for making giant themes seem light - Adam Thirlwell
The best novel Kehlmann has ever written . . . unlike Measuring the World, this novel is a deeply affecting, lively, brutal, wonderfully unreserved, modern, romantic German epic . . . Tyll is Kehlmann's victory over history, his historic triumph - Der Spiegel
A masterpiece . . . the most extraordinary European novel for many years . . . a brilliant book of stories, of great drama, cinematic and poetic . . . Kehlmann is at the height of his powers - Neue Zurcher Zeitung
The main difference to Measuring the World is the tone which reflects the terrible events: the destruction of the world . . . Kehlmann's storytelling is astonishing - Die Welt
Kehlmann's best novel so far . . . amidst the destruction, in the places where nothing reflects the former inhabitants anymore, it is the dead who show themselves . . . we owe it to this novel that we can see the dead more clearly, so clearly that it hurts - Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Daniel Kehlmann was born in Munich in 1975 and lives in Vienna, Berlin and New York. He has published six novels: Measuring the World, Me & Kaminski, Fame, F, You Should Have Left and Tyll and has won numerous prizes, including the Candide Prize, the Literature Prize of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, 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 biggest successes in post-war German literature.