A chilling story of marital struggle and psychological disturbance from a master of modern European literature
A thrilling exploration of psychological disturbance and fear from the bestselling and prize-winning author of Measuring the World.
On retreat in the wintry Alps with his family, a writer is optimistic about completing the sequel to his breakthrough film. Nothing to disturb him except the wind whispering around their glassy house. The perfect place to focus.
Intruding on that peace of mind, the demands of his four-year-old daughter splinter open long-simmering arguments with his wife. I love her, he writes in the notebook intended for his script. Why do we fight all the time?
Guilt and expectation strain at his concentration, and strain, too, at the walls of the house. They warp under his watch; at night, looking through the window, he sees impossible reflections on the snow outside.
Then the words start to appear in his notebook; the words he didn't write.
Familiar and forbidding by turns, this is an electrifying experiment in form by one of Europe's boldest writers. The ordinary struggles of a marriage transform, in Kehlmann's hands, into a twisted fable that stays darkly in the mind.
Daniel Kehlmann was born in Munich in 1975 and lives in Vienna, Berlin and New York. He has published six novels: Measuring the World, Me & Kaminski Fame, F and You Should Have Left and has won numerous prizes, including the Candide Prize, the Literature Prize of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Doderer Prize, The Kleist Prize, the WELT Literature Prize, and the Thomas Mann Prize. Measuring the World was translated into more than forty languages and is one of the biggest successes in post-war German literature.
Kehlmann is one of the brightest, most pleasure-giving writers at work today, and he manages all this while exploring matters of deep philosophical and intellectual import. — Jonathan Franzen
Daniel Kehlmann is one of the great novelists for making giant themes seem light — Adam Thirlwell
A well-crafted tale about one man unravelling due to forces beyond his control . . . You Should Have Left - part-horror, part-psychodrama - serves up effective shocks and thrills that keep us rapt and on the edge of our seats . . . Kehlmann brings that abyss ever closer and takes his narrator, and his reader, over the edge. — Malcolm Forbes, National
Wry, eerie and increasingly terrifying . . . Daniel Kehlmann is certainly in complete mastery of an entertaining Everyman's postmodernist Gothic guaranteed to unsettle — Eileen Battersby, Irish Times
Kehlmann plays on our manipulated expectations to pull off a rather spectacular hat trick . . . You Should Have Left is a story full of craft and scintillating devices . . . A chilling, curious little book, finely translated, and a promise of innovative maturity for its author — Mika Provata-Carlone, Bookanista
His fiction, conspicuously clever, tends to puncture all the dusty, lugubrious 'worthiness' of canonical literature . . .You Should Have Left [is] a taut and scary novella . . . [with] some high-grade science in it — Hermione Hoby, Sunday Times
It's a masterclass in economical storytelling, meticulously attentive prose and imaginative agility. Kehlmann creates narrative complexity with the deftest of strokes. He's also laugh-out-loud funny. This is both a highly readable novella and a subtly derisive challenge to readers to question the value of their own enjoyment. — Luke Davies, Literary Review
A sense of menacing claustrophobia, as the characters - and readers - teeter on the edge of an inexplicable abyss . . . Using some neat formal trickery and a cleverly suggestive atmosphere, this is a story about a marriage in trouble . . . At first glance there may not seem much to this little book, but it has a funny way with dimensions - its effects are amplified, and they linger. — Daniel Hahn, Spectator
Unsettling, tightly written (in an excellent English translation by Ross Benjamin), psychological suspense and outright, physics-defying horror . . . Kehlmann is a skilled storyteller who takes what could be a run-of-the-mill horror tale and builds it into something more intelligent, metaphysical, concise and perfectly paced as it cranks up the chill . . . Frightening and thought-provoking — Charlie Connelly, New European
This mind-bending novella about a writer losing his marbles contains images that startle and linger . . . The most arresting of the book's chilling moments might do for baby monitors what 'Jaws' did for swimming in the ocean . . . [Kehlmann] manages a few darkly comic flourishes . . . provocative . . . potent . . . pleasantly unsettling — John Williams, New York Times
A beautifully crafted exercise in terror from one of Germany's most celebrated contemporary authors . . . Kehlmann creates a sense of existential dread that transcends the typical ghost story . . . A book to keep you up at night — Kirkus
A ghost story steeped with a sense of existential dread and it will have you rereading the chilling final pages to figure out exactly what might have happened. It is a book that should carry a health warning: read alone at your own risk. — Georgia Godwin, Monocle