Reviews for The Nihilesthete
by Richard Kalich
Published by The Permanent Press
June 19, 1987
Selected by The Philadelphia
Inquirer critic, Carlin Romano, as one of the twenty-four
"Most Noteworthy" novels of 1987.
Author Richard Kalich joins such distinct company as Philip
Roth, Toni Morrison, Walker Percy, Saul Bellow and Tom Wolfe
whose novels were also chosen.
Selected by The National Endowment for the Arts and the United
States Information Agency to represent U.S. literary titles
at the 1987 Frankfurt Book Fair.
has been nominated for a Pen/Faulkner Award, The Hemingway
Award, a National Book Award, and Pulitzer Prize.
NIHILESTHETE speaks with singular
honesty, power and eloquence about our spiritually diminished
modern world and is as important and original a novel to have
been written by an American author in a generation."
- Mid-American Review
cannot be put down once contact is made. In the tradition of
Notes from the Underground, The Metamorphosis, and The Caseworker,
THE NIHILESTHETE is a journey into the encyclopedia of lost
souls. It is a brilliant, hammer-hitting, lights-out novel."
- Los Angeles Times
Richard Kalich's first novel is one of the most powerfully written
books of the decade."
- San Francisco Chronicle
"The well named Permanent Press has introduced a major
- The Philadelphia Inquirer
"...Compelling, hard to abandon once begun, but also troubling.
That is, I wondered what it was that was compelling to me --
not the characters, certainly. Probably the philosophical drama
itself, which Kalich found a way to make visceral. A book one
would finally -- oddly -- call uplifting"
- Sven Birkerts, National
Book Critics Circle, Citation for Excellence in Reviewing
"A remarkable novel...in some ways more than remarkable.
I especially admire the way in which Kalich hews to its pretty
grim narrative line. It reminds me of George Konrad's THE CASEWORKER,
a Hungarian novel that received a lot of attention here a few
years ago. In fact, it starts where The Caseworker ends."
- Ted Solotaroff
"...a bewildering reading experience... Richard
Kalich is for me the most important 'discovery'
in contemporary American literature since Paul
- Hans Bohman,
"...a parable about mediocrity versus talent.
...a breakthrough and new pathological version
in a literary form. ...Philosophical sadism."
Von Belgian TV, BRT
"The Nihilesthete is the worst novel I have
ever read. Then why read it? Because you can't put
the book down. The book is fascinating and exciting
and it makes the reader constantly think about what
comes next. I was as much fascinated by the author's
style as by his story. Because it is written in
short paragraphs, it makes the reader want one more
and then one more before putting the book down.
The author, Richard Kalich, is welcome to continue
writing. His Nihilesthete is a black, juicy and
absurd book. Congratulations to a great author and
a great book."
"Disgust is the first feeling. Next comes skepticism,
surprise, interest and maybe even fascination. The
Nihilesthete is terrifying but beneath its surface
lies a deep romantic celebration to the genius of
the artist. In this stinging mixture of urine, stool,
neglect and destruction Kalich forms a wonderful
art which shows the eternal to be living in the
- Me Lund, Denmark
"Have never read such a terrifying book. The
author, Richard Kalich, makes his debut novel devilish
and terrifying. The storyline has strong parallels
to the Nazi holocaust. There is good reason to warn
readers that they must have nerves of steel."
- Jyllands Posten,
"The first novel from Richard Kalich comes
to us from America already laden with honors and
critical acclaim. ...it succeeds most effectively.
...with undeniable brilliance. Brodski (like Richard
Kalich) turns out to be an artist."
- TIME OUT, London,
"Kalich has written the definitive allegory
of the late eighties about life in the 20th century
and, en passant, a fulminating thriller full of
psychological shockwaves. This is the most breathtaking
debut since Jonathan Carroll's 'The Land of Laughter'
about crazyness, absurdity and madness."
- Tips Bielefield,
"Kalich is one of those novelists who knows
how to fascinate and provocate at the same time,
because he knows how to tell a story, instead of,
like so many German debutants, talking about nothing
with filigrain technic."
- Koelner Illustrierte,
"This book transgresses borders and breaks
taboos and here in our old world culture that has
given us DeSade and Kafka is bound to be well received
and more importantly understood."
- Soester Anzeiger,
"Richard Kalich has written an extraordinary
novel. It is a praise to beauty and at the same
time a warning against the uncontrollable and powerful
forces of an individual against himself and others."
- Stuttgarter Zeitung,
"Richard Kalich can speak and write and judging
by his first book he is undoubtedly crazy. No. Better
his book is crazy. Mad. In the original sense of
the word. Mad meaning original. Kalich's brutal
book puts salt on the wound. This is not an easy
thing to accomplish but the reader is grateful to
Kalich for doing it."
"THE NIHILESTHETE is one of those brilliant
grotesqueries that illuminate the human condition.
The writing is superb and forces one along at a
tremendous pace, so that it is almost impossible
to put down.
- Tobias Scheneebaum,
author of "Keep
The River On Your Right"
"THE NIHILESTHETE - Kafka, Gombrowicz and Beckett might all spring to mind as you read this short stab of a novel, but Kalich stands on his own feet in producing a twisted and often grotesque imagining. This novel has fortunately been brought back to life again by Betimes Books as the first part of the Central Park West Trilogy, and the publisher should be heralded for bringing to our attention a writer too long ignored."
- Colin O' Sullivan