Who'd have thought a book of such modest volume could pack such a sprawling range of characters, tale-within-tale structures, overlapping story lines and poignant writing! From the very first of the nine short stories that make up "Ruhm", you get intrigued by the very ordinary setup of a telephone number mix-up and the mystery of the unknown life pieced together by the accidental callers om the other end. In itself a successful short about identities and the fun and burden of being someone else, the true fun of this book doesn't really start until you take up the following stories and realize how, in an intricate but not overly dramatized way, they are all somehow related to one another.
Indeed, what makes this book so special is in no small part due to the way the author strings these impressive shorts together. While reminiscent of the globalized net of sorrows and misfortunes depicted in the movie "Babel", this book added the extra flavor of some Paul Auster-esque illusionary tricks into the mix and created a dazzling effect of reading, living, doubting a story all at the same time. The plot keys that link the different characters together, some major and some barely noticeable, are expertly crafted. The big reveal at the very end, while already explored in a previous story, strikes a heavy blow and destroys everything you think you know about the book. Great idea, superbly executed.
A book that blends the real and the surreal, the accidental and the designed, the the grand themes of faith and the personal struggles for identity, "Ruhm" excels without seeming to break a sweat....Continua