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
- 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,
- 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 American writer."
- 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 Auster."
Bohman, Die Volleshant
"...a parable about mediocrity versus
talent. ...a breakthrough and new pathological
version in a literary form. ...Philosophical
- Von Belgian
"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."
Stiffslidende, Max Meloaard, Denmark
"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,
"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."
"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,
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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
"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.
"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