Richard Kraft, a German professor of rhetoric and aging Reaganite and Knight Rider fan, is unhappily married and badly in debt. He sees no way out of his rut until he is invited to participate in a competition to be held in California, sponsored by a Silicon Valley tycoon and “techno-optimist.” The contest is to answer a literal “million-dollar question”: each competitor must compose an eighteen-minute lecture on why our world is still, despite all evidence, the best of all possible worlds, and how we might improve it even further through technology.
Entering into a surreal American landscape, Kraft soon finds what’s left of his life falling to pieces as he struggles to justify as “best” a planet in the hands of such blithe neoliberal cupidity as he encounters on his odyssey to California. Still, with the prize money in his pocket, perhaps Kraft could finally buy his way to a new life. But what contortions—physical and philosophical—will he have to subject himself to in order to claim it?
Jonas Lüscher’s second novel, Kraft, is a hilarious and wicked tale about a man facing the ruins of his life, and his world.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
An entertainingly evil novel: Richard Kraft, the eponymous hero and a professor of rhetoric, participates in a competition to answer a literal million-dollar-question that could free him from his misery. A satire on neoliberal values and the merits of technology.
– Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Switzerland