Charlie Kaufman's Debut Novel Sounds Extremely Charlie Kaufman-y

He once called it an unfilmable novel about an "impossible movie."
screenshot via Adaptation trailer

Charlie Kaufman has consistently been one of the weirdest and best voices in filmmaking (and radio drama) since he broke our collective brains 20 years ago with Being John Malkovich, but the guy hasn't made a movie since 2015's criminally underrated stop-motion masterpiece Anomalisa. Thankfully, it turns out Kaufman wasn't spending the last few years just going to more Robert McKee seminars or whatever. He was putting the finishing touches on his long-gestating first novel—and now, it's finally getting a release.


On Friday, Entertainment Weekly announced that Kaufman's literary debut, Antkind, will be published by Random House next year. The book is about a film critic named B. Rosenberger Rosenberg who is, unsurprisingly, a little neurotic, and gets a chance to watch a new film that lasts an entire three months. What else were you expecting from a Charlie Kaufman book?

"There are no budgetary limitations in a novel," Kaufman told EW in a statement. “There is no studio oversight. There are no focus groups. In fact, this book is in part about that; it’s about an impossible movie."

Here's the book's long synopsis, via Amazon:

B. Rosenberger Rosenberg, neurotic and underappreciated film critic (failed academic, filmmaker, paramour, shoe salesman who sleeps in a sock drawer), stumbles upon a hitherto unseen film by an enigmatic outsider—a film he’s convinced will change his career trajectory and rock the world of cinema to its core. His hands on what is possibly the greatest movie ever made, a three-month-long stop-motion masterpiece that took its reclusive auteur ninety years to complete, B. knows that it is his mission to show it to the rest of humanity. The only problem: The film is destroyed, leaving him the sole witness to its inadvertently ephemeral genius.

All that’s left of this work of art is a single frame from which B. must somehow attempt to recall the film that just might be the last great hope of civilization. Thus begins a mind-boggling journey through the hilarious nightmarescape of a psyche as lushly Kafkaesque as it is atrophied by the relentless spew of Twitter. Desperate to impose order on an increasingly nonsensical existence, trapped in a self-imposed prison of aspirational victimhood and degeneratively inclusive language, B. scrambles to re-create the lost masterwork while attempting to keep pace with an ever-fracturing culture of “likes” and arbitrary denunciations that are simultaneously his bête noire and his raison d’être.

A searing indictment of the modern world, Antkind is a richly layered meditation on art, time, memory, identity, comedy, and the very nature of existence itself—the grain of truth at the heart of every joke.

"Antkind is a hilarious, devastating, epic mindfuck," Random House VP and Executive Editor Ben Greenberg told EW. "I've never read anything else like it." Sounds about right.

Antkind is due out in early 2020. Get ready, everybody.