Fiction – Novels

Christian Kracht
Die Toten

© Kiepenheuer & Witsch Verlag, Köln, 2016 Christian Kracht: Die Toten © Kiepenheuer & Witsch Verlag, Cologne, 2016Superficially, Die Toten (The Dead) tells a simple story. In the early thirties, the director Emil Nägeli, who, like Kracht, is Swiss, is commissioned to travel to Ja¬pan. There, culture officer Masahiko Amakasu is carrying out a plan to “counter American cultural imperialism, which appears omnipotent,” by means of a “celluloid axis” planned between Tokyo and Berlin. Amakasu’s associate in the German capital is Alfred Hugenberg, the Weimar Republic’s reactionary media magnate who was briefly Minister of Economics in Adolf Hitler’s first cabinet in 1933. According to Kracht, Hugenberg sees feature films as “gunpowder for the eyes”.
Hugenberg and Amakasu are two real characters Kracht includes in his novel. Charlie Chaplin also appears, as well as Heinz Rühmann and cultural scholar Siegfried Kracauer. (…) The backdrop of Die Toten includes the film industry, rising European fascism and National Socialism and their pact with authoritarian Japan. As if he had in mind Milan Kundera’s statement that a novel should not be a bicycle race with a starting and a finishing line, Kracht tells his story not in the style of a classic novel, but like an illustrated broadsheet. The individual sections are self-enclosed sequences just a few pages long, like short film strips rattling through a projector.

Sebastian Hammelehle: „Liebe, so absurd wie der Tod“
© Literatur Spiegel, October 2016

Christian Kracht
Die Toten
Kiepenheuer & Witsch Verlag, Cologne, 2016
ISBN 978-3-462-04554-3
212 pages


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