Antkind: A Novel

Charlie Kaufman

The bold and boundlessly original debut novel from the Oscar®-winning screenwriter of Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Synecdoche, New York.

‘Riotously funny’ New York Times

‘Just as loopy and clever as his movies’ Washington Post

B. Rosenberger Rosenberg, neurotic and underappreciated film critic (failed academic, filmmaker, paramour, shoe salesman who sleeps in a sock drawer), stumbles upon a hitherto unseen film by an enigmatic outsider – a three-month-long stop-motion masterpiece that took its reclusive auteur ninety years to complete. Convinced that the film will change his career trajectory and rock the world of cinema to its core, that it might possibly be the greatest movie ever made, B. knows that it is his mission to show it to the rest of humanity. The only problem: the film is destroyed, leaving him the sole witness to its inadvertently ephemeral genius.

All that’s left is a single frame from which B. must somehow attempt to recall the work of art that just might be the last great hope of civilization. Thus begins a mind-boggling journey through the hilarious nightmarescape of a psyche as lushly Kafkaesque as it is atrophied by the relentless spew of Twitter. Desperate to impose order on an increasingly nonsensical existence, trapped in a self-imposed prison of aspirational victimhood and degeneratively inclusive language, B. scrambles to re-create the lost masterwork while attempting to keep pace with an ever-fracturing culture of “likes” and arbitrary denunciations that are simultaneously his bête noire and his raison d’être.

A searing indictment of the modern world, Antkind is a richly layered meditation on art, time, memory, identity, comedy, and the very nature of existence itself – the grain of truth at the heart of every joke.

Reviews of Antkind: A Novel

    • ‘Magnificent … crammed with insanely creative gags’ Guardian
    • ‘Outstanding. Combining his films’ most urgent themes and recurring concerns in a format that supports the digressions and logic-loops he’s so famous for, Charlie Kaufman may have out-Kaufmaned himself’ The i
    • ‘A very strong debut novel, a long, anguished spill of a book, full of buried furies and nervy philosophical expeditions, constantly tossing off sparks of humour and imagination … at once surreal and highly readable’ LA Times
    • ‘Marked by a feverish genius. Antkind is Kaufman pushing himself to every formal and social limit, no holds barred, bleak and devastating, yet marvellous’ LA Times Review of Books
    • ‘Magnificent, genius, enraging, mysterious, joyous, terrifying and, above all, hilarious! Antkind might contain the universe’ Andrew Sean Greer, author of Less
    • ‘A full-throttled absurdist revolt against the constraints of the audience-tested mass entertainment, Antkind is unbridled Kaufman energy and wit coming up against the limits of the imagination itself: discursive, subversive, and genuinely funny’ Joshua Ferris, author of Then We Came to the End
    • ‘To paraphrase Charlie Kaufman, it’s like a brain factory in there! This is a whopper of a book, bursting with the driest of humour, the strangest of scenarios, and the most brilliant of observations. It is wholly original, maddening, and marvellous’ Susan Orlean, author of The Library Book
    • ‘Each page is so stuffed with invention, audacity and hilarity, it feels like an act of defiance. Antkind is a fever dream you don’t want to be shaken awake from, a thrill ride that veers down stranger and stranger alleys until you find yourself in a reality so kaleidoscopic you will question your own sanity. Or: the novel only Charlie Kaufman could pull off’ Maria Semple, author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette