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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.

THE NIHILESTHETE has been nominated for a Pen/Faulkner Award, The Hemingway Award, a National Book Award, and Pulitzer Prize.

Reviews for The Nihilesthete

"THE 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

THE NIHILESTHETE 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

THE NIHILESTHETE, 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 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

Other Books
Charlie P
Penthouse F
The Zoo

International Reviews

"...a bewildering reading experience... Richard Kalich is for me the most important 'discovery' in contemporary American literature since Paul Auster."
- Hans Bohman, Die Volleshant

"...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."
- Aslborg 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 present."
- 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, Denmark

"The first novel from Richard Kalich comes to us from America already laden with honors and critical acclaim. succeeds most effectively. ...with undeniable brilliance. Brodski (like Richard Kalich) turns out to be an artist."
- TIME OUT, London, England

"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, Germany

"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, Germany

"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, Germany

"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, Germany

"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."
- Tagesspiegel, Berlin Germany

"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