An outrageous, fantastical, uncategorizable novel of obsession, adventure, and coconuts
In 1902, a radical vegetarian and nudist from Nuremberg named August Engelhardt set sail for what was then called the Bismarck Archipelago. His destination: the island Kabakon. His goal: to found a colony based on worship of the sun and coconuts. His malnourished body was found on the beach on Kabakon in 1919; he was forty-three years old.
Christian Kracht's Imperium uses the outlandish details of Engelhardt's life to craft a fable about the allure of extremism and its fundamental foolishness. Engelhardt is at once a sympathetic outsider--mocked, misunderstood, physically assaulted--and a rigid ideologue, and his misguided notions of purity and his spiral into madness presage the horrors of the mid-twentieth century.
Playing with the tropes of classic adventure tales like Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe, Kracht's novel, an international bestseller, is funny, bizarre, shocking, and poignant--sometimes all on the same page. His allusions are misleading, his historical time lines are twisted, his narrator is unreliable--and the result is a novel that is also a mirror cabinet and a maze pitted with trapdoors. Both a provocative satire and a serious meditation on the fragility and audacity of human activity, Imperium is impossible to categorize, and utterly unlike anything you've read before.