Daniel Kehlmann’s Novel “You Should Have Left”

Daniel Kehlmann – “You Should Have Left” (Du hättest gehen sollen, 2016) ; translated by Ross Benjamin, Pantheon, 2017

From the internationally best-selling author of “Measuring the World” and “F”, an eerie and supernatural tale of a writer’s emotional collapse.” – The New York Times

You Should Have Left” lands in a place that is part horror, part science fiction.

Time travel, which may or may not be involved, is presented as its own kind of blurred nightmare.

If you’re unfamiliar with Kehlmann’s writing, don’t start with this slim, occasionally potent exercise.

But if you’re a fan waiting for his next full workout, you’ll find this a pleasantly unsettling way to pass the time.”

It is fitting that I’m beginning a new notebook up here. New surroundings and new ideas, a new beginning. Fresh air.”

“This passage is from the first entry of a journal kept by the narrator of Daniel Kehlmann’s spellbinding new novel. It is the record of the seven days that he, his wife, and his four-year-old daughter spend in a house they have rented in the mountains of Germany—a house that thwarts the expectations of the narrator’s recollection and seems to defy the very laws of physics. He is eager to finish a screenplay for a sequel to the movie that launched his career, but something he cannot explain is undermining his convictions and confidence, a process he is recording in this account of the uncanny events that unfold as he tries to understand what, exactly, is happening around him—and within him.”

Daniel Kehlman, born in Munich, Germany (born 13 January 1975) is a German-language author of both Austrian and German nationality and lives in Berlin and New York.

Daniel Kehlmann is the son of the television director Michael Kehlmann. He moved to his father’s hometown of Vienna at the age of six.

At university he read philosophy and literature before doing research for a doctoral thesis on the sublime in the works of Immanuel Kant which he did not finish partly because of his success as a writer.

In 1997 Kehlmann completed his first novel, “Beerholms Vorstellung” (Beerholm’s Performance), while still a student.

He also wrote numerous reviews and essays while at university, contributing to such organs as: Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Rundschau, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and Literaturen.

In 2001, Kehlmann held the guest lectureship of poetics at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz.

In the winter term of 2005/6 Kehlmann held the lectureship of poetics at the FH Wiesbaden (RheinMain University of Applied Sciences), and in 2006/7 he held the lectureship for poetics at the University of Göttingen.

Since 2015, Daniel Kehlmann has also successively held the Eberhard Berent Goethe Chair at New York University, lecturing on war literature, Heinrich von Kleist, and Heimito von Doderer.

Daniel Kehlmann is also a member of the Mainzer Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur (The Mainz Academy of Sciences and Literature).

His works have won the Candide Prize, the Heimito von Doderer Prize, the Kleist Prize, the Welt Literature Prize, and the Thomas Mann Prize.

“Measuring the World” (“Die Vermessung der Welt”, 2005) was translated into more than 40 languages and is one of the greatest successes in postwar German literature. Kehlmann’s novels are heavily influenced by magical realism.

His work has been translated in English, French, Spanish, Galician, Catalan, Italian, Portuguese, Swedish, Russian, Romanian, Czech, Serbian, Slovenian, Hungarian, Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Estonian, Faroese, Malayalam, Indonesian, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Slovak, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese.


Beerholms Vorstellung. (Beerholm’s Performance, novel) Vienna: Deuticke, 1997.
Unter der Sonne. (Under the Sun, short stories) Vienna: Deuticke, 1998.
Mahlers Zeit. (Mahler’s Time, novel) Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1999.
Der fernste Ort. (The Most Remote Place, novella) Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2001.
Ich und Kaminski (Me and Kaminski, novel) Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2003.
Die Vermessung der Welt (Measuring the World). (novel) Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 2005.
Wo ist Carlos Montúfar? (Where is Carlos Montúfar?, essays) Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 2005. ISBN 3-499-24139-0
Ruhm: Ein Roman in neun Geschichten (Fame: A Novel in Nine Episodes). Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 2009. ISBN 978-3-498-03543-3
F: A Novel. (novel) 2014. Pantheon. ISBN 978-0307911810
Du hättest gehen sollen. (You should have left), 2016.

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