Charlie Kaufman Is Writing a Novel About a Failed Film Critic

Charlie Kaufman is known for his brilliant, singular mind—a voice that brought us screenplays for movies like Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He also wrote and directed Synecdoche, New York and the stop-motion Anomalisa, has been nominated for four Academy Awards, and is a beloved figure in the film world, esteemed by the fans and colleges enraptured by his brand of surrealist humanity.

Now, he’s turning his sights to literature. According to Entertainment Weekly, Kaufman is working on a novel called Antkind. Originally acquired by Random House back in 2012, the publisher described it as a “mind-bending opus,” which is exactly what we’d expect from a Charlie Kaufman novel.

Antkind follows a failed film critic named B. Rosenberg who comes across a very curious, mysterious project: a three-month long film, which a reclusive auteur filmmaker even scheduled sleep and bathroom breaks into as a fully immersive audience experience. It took 90 years to create. Here’s the rest of the plot description from Random House:

“B. knows that it is his mission to show it to the rest of humanity. The only problem: The film is destroyed, leaving just a single frame from which B. must somehow attempt to recall the film that might just 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.”

The book is also described as “a searing indictment of the modern world […] 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.”

“I’ve been talking to Charlie about this novel for almost eight years and watching it change and recalibrate and grow,” Ben Greenberg, VP and Executive Editor at Random House, told Entertainment Weekly. “Antkind is a hilarious, devastating, epic mindf–k. I’ve never read anything else like it.”

In addition to Antkind, Kaufman also wrote and directed an adaptation of Ian Reid’s novel I’m Thinking of Ending Things. The film will be released on Netflix in 2020, and stars Jesse Plemmons, Jessie Buckley, and Toni Collette. He also has a slew of other projects in various stages of production, including a musical comedy about internet anger culture called Frank or Francis, a pilot called How and Why that was passed on by FX but is being shopped around to other networks, and the film Chaos Walking, for which he wrote a first draft of the screenplay. Directed by Doug Liman, the film stars Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley and has a tentative release date for 2020, although production has been, apropos of the title, more than a little chaotic.

Antkind is set for release on May 12, 2020. You can preorder it now.

Featured Image: Focus Features

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