Daniel Kehlmann

Me and Kaminski - Novel

(German title: Ich und Kaminski)
ca. 174 pages
Daniel Kehlmann
Foto: Daniel Kehlmann
© Renate von Mangoldt

Daniel Kehlmann was born in Munich in 1975 as the son of director Michael Kehlmann and actress Dagmar Mettler. In 1981 the family moved to Vienna, where Kehlmann went to school at the Kollegium Kalksburg and continued on to study Philosophy and German Literature at Vienna University. He received several prizes for his works, among them the award for literature of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and of the WELT newspaper, the Per-Olov-Enquist-Award, the Thomas-Mann-Award and the Kleist-Award. His novel Ich und Kaminski, adapted for the screen, was an international success, the novel Die Vermessung der Welt, translated into 46 languages and also made into a movie, is one of the most successful books of post-war Germany.

Daniel Kehlmann lives in Vienna and Berlin. He is the member of the Mainz Academy of Sciences and Literature and of the German Academy for Language and Literature.

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English world rights (Pantheon; UK sublicense: Quercus); Spanish world rights (Penguin Random House); Chinese simplex rights (Shanghai Translation); Chinese complex rights (Business Weekly); Russia (Azbooka); France (Actes Sud); Italy (Voland); Netherlands (Querido); Denmark (Lindhardt & Ringhof); Sweden (Bonniers); Norway (Gyldendal Norsk); Finnland (Tammi); Korea (Dulnyouk – published, rights reverted); Japan (Sanshusha); Czech Republic (Mlada fronta); Hungary (Magvetö); Bulgaria (Colibri); Romania (Humanitas – published, rights reverted); Estonia (Atlex); Croatia (Aora – published, rights reverted); Serbia (Clio); Slovenia (Modrijan); Turkey (Can); Greece (Kastaniotis); Ukraine (Klasyka); Israel (Hakibbutz Hameuchad / Sifriat Poalim)

Film rights sold (X Filme)

Domestic rights sales: German Audio Book Rights (Universal / Deutsche Grammophon – published, rights reverted)


A highly ironic novel in which the events constantly take new and surprising turns, a brilliantly funny game of confusion on grand delusions and thruths, on manipulation, on moral and art.

Sebastian Zollner is searching for his big break. A failure as a journalist, a boyfriend, and a human being, he sets out to write the essential biography of the eccentric painter Manuel Kaminski. All he needs to do is ingratiate himself into Kaminski’s family, wait for him to kick the bucket, and then reap the rewards. There’s only one problem. Kaminski has an agenda of his own, an agenda that will send them on a wild-goose chase to places neither of them ever expected to go.

Told with Nabokovian wit and an edgy intelligence, Me and Kaminski is a shrewd send-up of art and journalistic pretensions from the internationally acclaimed author of Measuring the World.

(book description from the U.S. edition by Pantheon)


»Witty, shrewd and smartly translated.« The Guardian

»Kehlmann has a sure eye for the pretensions of artists and critics. [...] [A] sparkling and consistently amusing comedy, by turns broad and sophisticated.« The Telegraph

»A gleeful massacre of media presumptions and art-world pretensions.« The Independent

» [A] novel with brain and a heart–[Kehlmann’s] real masterpiece.« Granta

»Display[s] a pyrotechnic ability to skewer not just journalists, but also the entire art world, from artists and critics to gallery owners and patrons. [...] Wonderful.« The Washington Times

»Kehlmann has depicted the scientific and cultural establishment maliciously multiple times already, but never before has he given such free rein to his satirical temper […] His funniest book by far. And his most adventurous […] Only those who are head and shoulders above the trivial genres can strain them with such infectious relish and with such ravishing incredibility.« Die Zeit

»Kehlmann is a confident narrator, securely set in his sound, with a strong grip on the course of the story […] Smashing.« Der Spiegel

»There hasn’t been that much humour in contemporary German novels for a long time […] The young author conducts his games of fiction with remarkable refinement and simultaneously with astonishing wit. The plot is ironclad; the dialogues and the comedic elements contained within them seem to beg to be filmed.« Frankfurter Rundschau

»A book on failure, on seeing and perceiving and on art. Daniel Kehlmann approaches his subject with ease. His novel is neither too light, nor too complicated; it’s critical and satirical […] A successful comment on the crisis of our pretentious world.« Literaturen

»Daniel Kehlmann thoroughly goes through the mutually parasitic relationship between master and critic in a vicious, brilliantly funny, rather allegorical chamber play that itself seemingly revitalises the traditional genre of the Künstlerroman in the style of the old masters.« Süddeutsche Zeitung

»Hardly ever has literary criticism reached such a firm consensus: Daniel Kehlmann’s novel impresses with its confident style, sharp power of observation and elegant wit.« Stern

»Kehlmann tells Zöllner’s and Kaminski’s story straightforwardly and without any unnecessary baggage. His language is clear and precise, you could say: flawless. The novel is meticulously composed and the author masters the fine balance between exact depiction and the swift expediting of the events.« Der Tagesspiegel

»The miserable, unholy Sebastian – a cheated fraud and martyr of his own ambition – has almost gained our pity by the end […] Daniel Kehlmann is able to compose wonderfully prosaic dialogues. His wit never seems insincere, nor does the irony leave a stale taste. And the satire doesn’t seem superimposed onto the plot, but originates casually in the narrative structure.« Die Welt

»A piercing look into the art world. [...] Kehlmann’s critique of celebrity, of fame and of the ugliness of self-promotion holds strong.« San Francisco Chronicle

»Zollner [is], in spite of everything, an endearing character who is both comic and sympathetic [...] Can be absorbed and thoroughly enjoyed in one sitting.« Rocky Mountain News

»Funny and surprisingly thoughtful [...] Zollner touches on art and aging, truth and illusion - and the stories we tell ourselves so we can keep going when the going’s hard.« St. Petersburg Times

»[Zollner] is [...] amusingly distasteful, utterly unreliable, [and] recognizable to readers of Nabokov and his present-day disciples like Amis and Banville [...] Philosophically and psychologically provocative.« Bookforum

»Sebastian Zollner and Manuel Kaminski are quite a pair [...] Laugh-out-loud funny.« Las Vegas Review-Journal

»A singular book, barbed and compassionate, uproarious and touching.« The Anniston Star

»A bitingly funny meditation on memory, aging and death.« The Free Lance-Star

» [Me and Kaminski] will leave you breathless, caught between laughter and tears, pondering the Great Questions such as ‘What is Art?’« The Putnam County Courier

»Fun, fast, and thoroughly enjoyable.« New Statesman

»By turns rollicking, witty and touching. [...] A real treat.« The Howard County Times

»Zollner’s probing of Kaminski’s life culminates in whimsical and often laugh-out-loud circumstances. [...] A satire of all sorts of people in creative professions.« Sacramento Book Review

Other publications

Der fernste Ort/Der fernste Ort (2001)

Sold to:

Russia (Azbooka – published, rights reverted), Latvia (Atena – published, rights reverted), Turkey (Can – published, rights reverted), Ukraine (Klasyka)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Audio Book Rights (Hörbuch Hamburg)

Mahlers Zeit/Mahler's Time (1999)

Sold to:

Russia (Azbooka – published, rights reverted), Arabic world rights (Kalima), Italy (Voland), Norway (Gyldendal Norsk – published, rights reverted), Czech Republic (Argo – published, rights reverted), Croatia (Fraktura – published, rights reverted), Bosnia (Vrijeme – published, rights reverted)

Domestic rights sales: German Audio Book Rights (Roof Music), German Radio Play (HR)