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Richard Kraft, a German professor of rhetoric, and an aging Reaganite and A-Team fan, is unhappily married and badly in debt. He sees no way out of his rut until he is invited to participate in a competition to be held in California that is sponsored by a Silicon Valley tycoon and "techno-optimist." The contest is to answer a literal "million-dollar question": each competitor must compose an eighteen-minute lecture on why our world is still, despite all evidence, the best of all possible worlds, and how we might improve it even further.
Entering into a surreal American landscape, Kraft soon finds what's left of his life falling to pieces as he struggles to justify as "best" a planet ruled by the hands of such blithe neoliberal cupidity as he encounters on his odyssey to California. Still, with the prize money, perhaps he could finally buy his way to a new life . . . But what contortions-physical and philosophical-will he have to subject himself to in order to claim it?
Jonas Luscher's second novel, Kraft, is a hilarious and wicked tale about a man facing the ruins of his life, and his world.
23 February 2021
Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc