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A breathtaking tour de force inspired by an ancient Germanic folktale, Tyll recalls the grandeur of Romanticism and the sly darkness of traditional fairy tale. A macabre tale of courtly tricksters and provincial bogeymen, Kehlmann’s spellbinding reimagining is one of the most remarkable reads of the year.
Shortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2020
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.
Publisher: Quercus Publishing
Number of pages: 352
Weight: 440 g
Dimensions: 222 x 142 x 38 mm
'…typical Kehlmann, a delicious cocktail of philosophy, adventure and earthy humour' - The Express
'Like a magician plucking an egg from an empty palm, Kehlmann summons comedy, farce, wisecracking badinage, even romance, from this blighted time.' - The Financial Times
'Rendered with an extraordinary delicate and vivid touch…the work of an immense talent.' - The Guardian
'A masterly achievement, a work of imaginative grandeur and complete artistic control' - Ian McEwan
'Brilliant and unputdownable' - Salman Rushdie
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“Historical fiction at its best...”
Daniel Kehlmann resurrects well-known character Tyll from German folklore, originally from the 16th century, he transplants this unlikely hero to the Thirty Years war between 1618 to 1648.
Tyll is an entertainer... More
“International Booker longlist 2020”
Thank you to the publishers for this review copy.
This novel certainly captures the time and place very well.
Loved the humour in the characters too.
“Picaresque novel set across GERMANY”
Of course I had heard of Tyll Ulenspiegel (also Till Eulenspiegel), a mythical will-o-the-wisp character who flamboyantly weaves his way through war ravaged regions, lands that we now know as Germany.
The novel is... More
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