Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann

This book raises some interesting points about fiction in general, as indicated by the two reviews I've linked on my books page. What responsibility does an author have to the reality behind the subject of his novel, especially if the novel reads like an historical novel, even if it isn't one? I am a big fan of "magical realism", but nonetheless was very disappointed by the Kehlmann novel - the book is well written, but in the end fails I think because he has made the main characters rather boring - and even the events described fall short of being really interesting. The simple fact is that in this case reality was actually more captivating than the fantasy the author was able to conjure up for us. And worse(?), many readers might be tempted to think they've learned something about Gauss and Humboldt from the novel; instead they've been fed some misinformation, and a larger load of cliches than one might have expected from a talented writer.

As I said, a disappointment. But if it leads you to reflect on the nature and responsibilities of fiction, maybe that exercise will compensate ...

Here is another review