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Tyll: Shortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2020

Daniel Kehlmann

8 Reviews

Rated 0

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945), European history

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.

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Praise for Tyll: Shortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2020

  • 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

  • Tyll proves that Kehlmann is literature's jack-of-all trades. He manages to combine meticulous historical research and virtuoso language mimicry with a frightening exploration of our current sense of dystopia. An incredible educational experience and improbably entertaining.

  • Kehlmann's imagination runs deep and wild. It travels with the currents of history, in its cycles of brutality and violence, it reaches into our own solitude and silence, summoning us, it soars far and high, and echoes with the power of myth.

  • Daniel Kehlmann's Tyll is a laugh-outloud-then-weep-into-your-beer comic novel about a war... Kehlmann is at the top of his game - The Times

  • The narrative moves from myth to historical novel to ballad and back. and Ross Benjamin's translation follows it faithfully - The Spectator

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Daniel Kehlmann

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.

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