Trottel / Sort Of Idiot

Jan Faktor

Kiepenheuer & Witsch, September 2022

Jan Faktor has written a wonderfully playful, sparkling, sometimes dark, and anarchic picaresque novel. At the center: a headstrong narrator, writer, native Czech, and gifted simpleton, and the memory of a life in which nothing ever turned out as expected.

The simpleton’s story begins in Prague, after the Soviet invasion. On the advice of an aunt, the young simpleton studies computer science, but he doesn’t last long. Instead, he has his first grotesque romantic experiences, gets bored in an office for statistics about lies, and finally delivers army bread rolls. After a memorable encounter with the “Teutonic horde,” which includes his future wife, he “emigrates” to East Berlin, immerses himself in the weird, political underground scene in Prenzlauer Berg, is surprised by the “ideologically mor- phinized” GDR and the events around the fall of the Berlin Wall, and finally discovers his passion for the band Rammstein.

From the beginning, this retrospect is also shot through with darkness: the trace of the son who chooses suicide at the age of 33, and whose early death will make everything become unhinged.

Read an English-language sample translation by Simon Srebrny here.

This book was shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2022. As the media partner for the Prize, we publish information on all six shortlisted books