A major new novel by Daniel Kehlmann
The vagrant, actor, entertainer and provocateur Tyll Ulenspiegel is born in the early 1600s. Tyll’s father, a miller, is also a magician and explorer, and soon arouses the ire of the village churchmen. Tyll is forced to flee, accompanied by Nele, the baker’s daughter. During his travels through a country devastated by the Thirty Years’ War he meets both ordinary people and great souls. These include the young academic and writer Martin von Wolkenstein, who’s dying to find out what war is really like; the melancholic executioner Tilman; Pirmin, the juggler; Origines, the talking donkey; the exiled rulers of Bohemia, Elizabeth and Friedrich, whose mistakes sparked this great war; the doctor Paul Fleming, whose bizarre plan is to write poems in German; and, not least, the fanatical Jesuit Tesimond and Athanasius Kircher, the renowned sage whose biggest secret is that he forged the startling results of his scientific experiments. Their stories come together in a spellbinding narrative, and an epic re-imagining of the Thirty Years’ War. And who should this violent whirlwind envelop in its fury if not Tyll, the well-known prankster who one day decides to become immortal?
“My favourite German novelist.” Ian McEwan, Sunday Times