(source for above: The Guardian, 19.07.2006, pages 10-11)
The Guardian (online report): Unlikely bestseller heralds the return of lightness and humour to German literature
At first glance the plot seems unpromising. At the end of the 18th century two brilliant young Germans attempt to measure the world. One of them is Alexander von Humboldt, whose journeys in South America see him hack through the jungle, crawl into caves and count lice on the natives.
The other is Carl Friedrich Gauss, an astronomer and mathematician, who cannot live without women, but who leaps out of bed on his wedding night to note a formula. From his home in Göttingen, Gauss discovers that space is bent.
The two men - old, famous and a bit odd - meet each other in Berlin in 1828. No sooner has Gauss emerged from his carriage, however, than he finds himself caught up in the confusion of Germany after the fall of Napoleon.
Gripped? You will be. In fact, Measuring the World has proved nothing less than a literary sensation. Since it was published last September, the novel has sold more than 600,000 copies in Germany, knocking JK Rowling and Dan Brown off the top of the best-seller list.
Last week it was still at number two, 10 months after publication.
The book, which also features a senile Immanuel Kant, is the most successful German novel since Patrick Susskind's Perfume two decades ago.
Hundreds of thousands of Germans are buying and reading Daniel Kehlmann's novel Measuring the World, which has been topping the bestseller lists almost since it first appeared in late September 2005 and, right after the pre-Christmas sales, even toppled Harry Potter to take up pole position, which it has since held week in, week out, unchallenged even by the most popular new spring publications. Meantime, sales have clearly passed the half a million mark and the rights have been purchased for more than twenty countries. The novel has just been published in the Netherlands. In Great Britain and the United States, where translations always have a difficult time, Measuring the World will come out in autumn.
Source (and more [in English]here at Deutschland online
I haven't read it - I'd thaught, I knew enough about Humboldt and Gauss.
But now I might reconsider this ...