Charlie Kaufman To Publish ‘An Unfilmable Novel About An Impossible Film’

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BY November 23, 2019

Charlie Kaufman is the Oscar-winning screenwriter (and sometimes director) behind surrealist films like Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Now, for the first time Kaufman will turn from the screen to the page to publish his debut novel. Apparently Random House acquired the 700+ page manuscript in 2012, and Kaufman has been discussing the work in interviews since 2016. Kaufman’s novel Antkind is due for publication in 2020.

Antkind - Novel by Charlie Kaufman Image via Random House

Charlie Kaufman Is Unsurprisingly Meta About His First Novel

Charlie Kaufman describes his novel Antkind as “an unfilmable novel about an impossible movie.” So don’t expect to see this novel adapted for the big screen anytime soon. Kaufman says that Antkind is “By design something I think is impossible to make into a movie. Sort of the opposite of what you’re usually trying to do with a novel these days. It’s like, it cannot be made. And that’s what I set out to do.”

The novel is about a film critic who stumbles across a movie that changes his life, and also possibly the world? The synopsis from Random House definitely lives up to the mind-bending nature of Kaufman’s writing.

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.

Charlie Kaufman Charlie Kaufman in 2015 | Image via Wikimedia Commons

Kaufman May Turn To Writing Novels Instead Of Films

Charlie Kaufman is also no stranger to this kind of intricately layered meta work. For instance, his film Being John Malkovich is about getting (literally) inside the head of the famous actor. Adaptation was also a semi-autobiographical work about a writer who struggles with an ambitious screenplay. Charlie Kaufman wrote his first novel about a film that he could never bring to life onscreen. That feels very fitting for this ambitious auteur.

There are no budgetary limitations,” Kaufman says about writing a novel. “No studio oversight. There are no focus groups. In fact, this book is in part about that; it’s about an impossible movie.”

Kaufman has also spoken about how a switch to writing novels “might be a way out” of the movie industry for him. This might be alarming to fans of his work. But have no fear. Kaufman is currently onboard to write and direct an adaptation of the Iain Reid novel I’m Thinking of Ending Things. The film stars Toni Colette, Jesse Plemons, and David Thewlis. However, his next film to hit the big screen will be Chaos Walking starring Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland, due for release in January 2020.

Antkind – the debut novel by Charlie Kaufman will be out on May 12, 2020.


Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.

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