Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann

Tyll

Daniel Kehlmann

Germany during the Thirty Years' War was a hell on earth. Tyll Ulenspiegel survives because he refuses to die. He betrays his father, runs away and becomes a mountebank - all because he refuses to die. He meets all sort of people - Dr Tesimond, the only surviving Gunpowder Plotter, Athanasius Kircher, an academic, and Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia. And still Tyll refuses to die. This is a sardonic, darkly humorous tale of survival..

Extract

The wind carried small, cold raindrops. All around them were tree stumps, hundreds of them; a whole forest had been cut down. They passed through a village that had been burned to its foundation walls, and there they saw a heap of corpses. The fat count averted his eyes and then looked after all. He saw blackened faces, a torso with only one arm, a hand clenched into a claw, two empty eye sockets over an open mouth, and something that looked like a sack but was the remains of a body. An acrid smell hung in the air.

Parallels
  • Mother Courage and Her Children by Bertholt Brecht
  • Freedom Hospital by Hamid Sulaiman
  • The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam