Kapitoil

( 7 )

Overview

"Sometimes you do not truly observe something until you study it in reverse," writes Karim Issar upon arrival to New York City from Qatar in 1999. Fluent in numbers, logic, and business jargon yet often baffled by human connection, the young financial wizard soon creates a computer program named Kapitoil that predicts oil futures and reaps record profits for his company.

At first an introspective loner adrift in New York's social scenes, he anchors himself to his legendary boss Derek Schrub and Rebecca, a ...

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Kapitoil

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Overview

"Sometimes you do not truly observe something until you study it in reverse," writes Karim Issar upon arrival to New York City from Qatar in 1999. Fluent in numbers, logic, and business jargon yet often baffled by human connection, the young financial wizard soon creates a computer program named Kapitoil that predicts oil futures and reaps record profits for his company.

At first an introspective loner adrift in New York's social scenes, he anchors himself to his legendary boss Derek Schrub and Rebecca, a sensitive, disillusioned colleague who may understand him better than he does himself. Her influence, and his father's disapproval of Karim's Americanization, cause him to question the moral implications of Kapitoil, moving him toward a decision that will determine his future, his firm's, and to whom—and where—his loyalties lie.

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Editorial Reviews

The Independent
Kapitoil is set before 9/11, but its depiction of the reckless excess that lies behind our current debacle groups it with Adam Haslett’s Union Atlantic and Jonathan Dee’s The Privileges...an unusually enjoyable experience.”
McSweeneys.net
“Flat out top-notch. Kapitoil makes you see America and the English language more clearly than ever before, and Karim Issar, the book’s protagonist, is one of the most interesting characters we’ve had a chance to spend time with.”
Bomb Magazine
“A book ripe with beauty and potential....Karim Issar is a character readers will remember, and readers had better prepare themselves to remember the name of Teddy Wayne as well. It’s one they’ll be hearing again and again in the months following Kapitoil’s release.”
Salon.com
“Every once in a while, you encounter a character in a work of fiction who feels like such a real person, such a friend, that once you finish the book, you miss having him around. Karim Issar, the protagonist of Teddy Wayne’s captivating debut novel Kapitoil, is such a character.”
Blackbook
“[A]t once a thought-provoking meditation on late capitalism, and poignant coming-of-age story.”
BookPage.com
“Funny, intelligent and poignant...With Wayne’s clever prose and simultaneously romantic and skeptical viewpoint, Teddy Wayne is undoubtedly an exciting new voice on the scene—and Kapitoil is a book that is not to be missed.”
Houston Chronicle
“Brilliant...The beauty of Kapitoil, Wayne’s debut novel, is that it tackles broad and serious themes with humor and an eye for detail. Karim’s carefully articulated voice is a thing of beauty....Teddy Wayne = a major literary talent.”
Booklist
Named one of the top ten first novels of 2010 by Booklist!“[A] funny and incisive novel of one young man’s heady introduction to American culture.”
Booklist (starred review)
“This wonderfully assured debut novel, at once poignant, insightful, and funny…is a delight. Best of all, however, is simply being inside Karim’s head as he ponders Jackson Pollock’s paintings, baseball, programming, and the mysteries of love and life in the U.S. ”
Vanity Fair
“[An] affecting, timely, and frequently hilarious debut novel.”
MarieClaire.com
“The novel is wise and humble, funny and sweet, so incredibly touching.”
Boston Globe
“Wayne has written one of the best novels of my generation.... Why did 9/11 happen, and why do we continue to respond so blindly? Wayne answers these questions better than Mohsin Hamid or Joseph O’Neill, the best authors of this genre until now.”
Jonathan Franzen
“KAPITOIL is one of those uncommon novels that really is novel. Though the storytelling is conventional, it is satisfyingly so, and the book’s estimable young narrator is a human type whom nobody until Wayne was ever inspired to write about.”
Ben Fountain
“[A] brilliant book. Karim Issar is one of the freshest, funniest heroes I’ve come across in a long time... In its honesty, humor, intelligence, and hard-won wisdom, Kapitoil is ‘Karim-esque’ to the nth degree, and that is a very good way to be.”
Joshua Henkin
“What a wonderful character Karim is—the hapless, hilarious, math-obsessed hero of Teddy Wayne’s first novel. KAPITOIL is a delight. Who knew oil futures could be such fun?”
Kathryn Davis
“Teddy Wayne’s debut novel is an innovative and incisive meditation on the wages of corporate greed, the fundamental darkness of its vision lit by the author’s great comic intelligence and wit.”
Jonathan Franzen to TheDailyBeast.com
“[Karim]’s a type—the nerdy and needy young immigrant—that we’re all familiar with but that no other writer, as far as I know, has invented such a funny and compelling voice and story for.”
Salon.com
“Every once in a while, you encounter a character in a work of fiction who feels like such a real person, such a friend, that once you finish the book, you miss having him around. Karim Issar, the protagonist of Teddy Wayne’s captivating debut novel Kapitoil, is such a character.”
Bomb Magazine
“A book ripe with beauty and potential....Karim Issar is a character readers will remember, and readers had better prepare themselves to remember the name of Teddy Wayne as well. It’s one they’ll be hearing again and again in the months following Kapitoil’s release.”
Booklist (starred review)
“This wonderfully assured debut novel, at once poignant, insightful, and funny…is a delight. Best of all, however, is simply being inside Karim’s head as he ponders Jackson Pollock’s paintings, baseball, programming, and the mysteries of love and life in the U.S. ”
Houston Chronicle
“Brilliant...The beauty of Kapitoil, Wayne’s debut novel, is that it tackles broad and serious themes with humor and an eye for detail. Karim’s carefully articulated voice is a thing of beauty....Teddy Wayne = a major literary talent.”
Vanity Fair
“[An] affecting, timely, and frequently hilarious debut novel.”
MarieClaire.com
“The novel is wise and humble, funny and sweet, so incredibly touching.”
BookPage.com
“Funny, intelligent and poignant...With Wayne’s clever prose and simultaneously romantic and skeptical viewpoint, Teddy Wayne is undoubtedly an exciting new voice on the scene—and Kapitoil is a book that is not to be missed.”
Blackbook
“[A]t once a thought-provoking meditation on late capitalism, and poignant coming-of-age story.”
Boston Globe
“Wayne has written one of the best novels of my generation.... Why did 9/11 happen, and why do we continue to respond so blindly? Wayne answers these questions better than Mohsin Hamid or Joseph O’Neill, the best authors of this genre until now.”
McSweeneys.net
“Flat out top-notch. Kapitoil makes you see America and the English language more clearly than ever before, and Karim Issar, the book’s protagonist, is one of the most interesting characters we’ve had a chance to spend time with.”
Publishers Weekly
Magazine writer Wayne's strong and heartfelt debut novel, set in New York City in the months leading up to the millennium, follows Karim Issar as he leaves his home and family in Qatar for a programming job at a Wall Street firm preparing for the Y2K bug. On the side, the very socially maladapted programming genius creates Kapitoil, a morally troubling computer program that allows his company to make a killing by modeling oil futures based on political instability. Meanwhile, a romance simmers with Rebecca, Karim's colleague and his guide to American culture. Ultimately, Karim must make a choice about his and his family's financial security and Kapitoil's potential for (perhaps) doing good in the world. Wayne zips through a minefield of potential clichés and comes out unscathed, striking a balance of humor and keen insight that propels the story through Karim's education about the West's ethics and its capitalism, while in the background the World Trade Center looms. It's a slick first novel that beautifully captures a time that, in retrospect, seems tragically naïve. (Apr.)
The Barnes & Noble Review

Every once in a while, you encounter a character in a work of fiction who feels like such a real person, such a friend, that once you finish the book, you miss having him around. Karim Issar, the protagonist of Teddy Wayne's captivating debut novel Kapitoil, is such a character. When we first meet Karim, a gifted computer programmer from Doha, Qatar, he is en route to New York City, flying in to help the financial services firm he works for, Schrub Equities, survive the Y2K bug. The year is 1999, and Kapitoil reminds us that pre-9/11 New York was not quite as innocent as we may remember it. Karim hungers to get ahead in that high-stakes world. After all, he has a younger sister back home to take care of, and business success would, as he puts it, "certify Zahira and I had sufficient funds for the future." But how much is he willing to compromise to do so?

Karim's story, told in diary format, is compelling; his voice makes the book a standout. Working to improve his grasp of American idiom, Karim carries a voice recorder everywhere so that, later, he can look up expressions he doesn't know. "This will help me to study the American voices I hear and to transmit their conversations without error," he tells his teenage seatmate on the flight over the Atlantic. Karim also notes that the journal will help him to remember. "I have a robust memory for some details, but it is complex to continue acquiring data and archive them all," he observes, "and even now I am forgetting some older memories, as if my brain is a hard drive and time is a magnet."

The reader comes to share Karim's fascination with language, and to be thoroughly charmed by his "Karim-esque" phrasing -- as well as his perspective on American culture. Who could resist rooting for a character who finds inspiration in Jackson Pollock's paintings and Leonard Cohen's lyrics, and who describes a cloying Christmas movie as "unrealistic and false although it still made me feel slightly enhanced"? Wayne has given us a character to adore and a book that leaves us feeling, as Karim might say, greatly enhanced.

--Amy Reiter
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061873218
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/13/2010
  • Series: P.S. Series
  • Pages: 295
  • Sales rank: 414,715
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Teddy Wayne is a graduate of Harvard and Washington University in St. Louis. He is the the recipient of an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, and his work has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Time, Esquire, McSweeney's, and elsewhere. He lives in New York.

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Customer Reviews

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