stand-in

This won't be the most objective review of Sieger Sloot Ernest van der Kwast's fast-paced and witty debut novel 'Stand-in', though it may well be the first one in English...

Update: Read this post about the book's stand-in author...

Ernest van der Kwast - Stand-in

Andreas Mahlknecht, a German street salesman living hand-to-mouth, gets offered a job by a literary agent as a stand-in for writers. He makes an explosive career at public readings, award ceremonies and interviews, becoming all the craze of the German literary scene, to the point where he finds himself the star of an evening of 'Heinrich Heine reading Heinrich Heine'.

I was no master of disguise, no double, no look-alike. I was a natural, and my talent was to flawlessly not be myself.

After representing a controversial writer, fundamentalists start burning 'his' book and Mahlknecht is forced to go into hiding. He decides to shed all his assumed identities and write his own autobiography, including his bizarre childhood story, which started as a 'scandal' while still in his mother's womb.

This is the proof of my existence. The way an average citizen's passport contains no secrets, this book will have to tell who I am. An average citizen. Someone who wanted to escape his fate, but instead walked into it with open arms.

The ultimate irony, however, is that when the notorious stand-in comes out with his own story, no one is prepared to believe him...

'Stand-in' and its chameleonic, scandalous narrator remind both of 'Being There' and 'The Tin Drum' -- though that may sound a bit too heavy for this rapid-fire collection of hilarious scenes and quotable oneliners.

Recommended for further reading:

the ultimate anecdote

Welcome back to 1999. Jacob van Duijn's new novel 'Hyper' chronicles the height of the internet hype in Amsterdam through the eyes of a honey voiced consultant with an inflated bank account. Sound familiar? It is, and pretty funny too. … Read the full post »

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