Moscow 1985: The international Programming Spartakad keeps the Soviet elite in suspense. Aspiring mathematicians compete with each other with future technologies, that seem only one keypress away. However, the Cuban national team disappears without a trace right before the opening. Their translator Mireya goes looking for them in the foreign capital, that buzzes and flickers almost electrically. Architects and agents, rhyming machines and even Stalin's living shadow play a role in this wild and at times mystical story: A colourful mosaic of the Soviet Union just a blink before the world's interconnection. A novel as unpredictable as history itself.
Nominated for the Leipzig Book Fair Prize 2018
Nominated for the German Book Prize 2018
English sample translation available
Matthias Senkel was born 1977. His first novel Frühe Vögel was awarded with the Rauriser Literary Prize and the Uwe Johnson Prize.
By the same author(s)
"One of the wittiest, most imaginative, and high-spirited experiments in contemporary German literature."
- Lothar Müller, Süddeutsche Zeitung
"'Dark Numbers' is a book of binary codes and artificial intelligence, but what is most striking is the natural intelligence behind it: the author himself."
- Paul Jandl, Neue Zürcher Zeitung
"[A]n Matthias Senkel could be told a thing or two about the smart, highly ambitious up-and-coming scene in German-language literature if he succeeds."
- Dirk Knipphals, taz
"Matthias Senkel has thoroughly researched, but playfully prepared the results, so that technical precision and creative comedy are combined."
- Sibylle Orgeldinger, Badische Neueste Nachrichten
"In places, the impressive attention to detail and knowledge of technology is reminiscent of Thomas Pynchon's 'Bleeding Edge,' but coupled with the absurdities and calamities of a Vladimir Sorokin."
- Thomas Feibel, Buchkultur
"Breathless through the text: A linguistic firework, ironic-historical, grotesque, humorous!"
- Malte Bremer, literaturcafe.de
"[The novel] is full of banging ideas and shrewd derivations, in which historical traces and their drifts are layered on top of each other with great narrative pleasure. A reading pleasure, no doubt."
- Jörg Schieke, MDR
"Knowledge and wit lie very close together in this book. In addition, there is a great joy in experimenting with the literary form: Crossword puzzles and agent stories mix with fictional poet biographies and longish lists of abbreviations interspersed in the middle of the text. This certainly makes Matthias Senkel one of the most stylistically creative authors of our time."
- Jan Ehlert, NDR
"[...] stamina is rewarded with a fascinating story about an alternative approach to literature and perhaps also a lost approach to technology."
- Gerrit ter Horst, Zeilensprünge
"A hussar's piece that sparkles with wit and intelligence."
- Meike Fessmann, Der Tagesspiegel
"So much narrative pleasure, so much joy in stylistic devices and tones and wild ideas is rare in the German-speaking world. This is quite great cinema [...]"
- Jörg Petzold, FluxFM
"This novel is a real bird of paradise in the most positive sense. Impressive, confusing, surreal, but then again mercilessly realistic. A novel of great depth and incredibly complex."
"One of these stories is more hair-raising than the other - and yet by no means nonsense."
- Michael Hametner, Neues Deutschland
"'Dark Numbers', this is a terrific imaginative book and it is also, in its use of socio and dialects, in its serving of literary genres and its references to James Joyce, Robert Musil or Russian literature, an impressive piece of literature."
- Paula Pfoser, ORF