Synopses & Reviews
On the private Greek island of Skios, the high-paying guests of a world-renowned foundation prepare for the annual keynote address, to be given this year by Dr. Norman Wilfred, an eminent authority on the scientific organization of science. He turns out to be surprisingly youthful, handsome, and charming — quite unlike his reputation as dry and intimidating. Everyone is soon eating out of his hands. So, even sooner, is Nikki, the foundation's attractive and efficient organizer.
Meanwhile, in a remote villa at the other end of the island, Nikki's old friend Georgie has rashly agreed to spend a furtive horizontal weekend with a notorious schemer, who has characteristically failed to turn up. Trapped there with her instead is a pompous, balding individual called Dr. Norman Wilfred, who has lost his whereabouts, his luggage, his temper, and increasingly all sense of reality — indeed, everything he possesses other than the text of a well-traveled lecture on the scientific organization of science.
In a spiraling farce about upright academics, gilded captains of industry, ambitious climbers, and dotty philanthropists, Michael Frayn, the farceur "by whom all others must be measured" (CurtainUp), tells a story of personal and professional disintegration, probing his eternal theme of how we know what we know even as he delivers us to the outer limits of hilarity.
“Immensely entertaining...Michael Frayn is a master of that most frantic of genres: the door-slamming, coincidence-splattered, slapstick-studded genre of farce.” Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Expertly written, genuine fun....Frayn builds his puzzle so painstakingly and tells his story so engagingly, you want to jump in his lap and build a nest.” Alex Witchel, The New York Times Book Review
“Are you, perhaps even now, searching for the perfect comic novel for the beach, the hammock or some lazy summer weekend? Say 'yes' to any of these questions and you should immediately head for your bookstore to buy a copy of Frayn's new book, Skios, a romantic comedy constructed with the quick cutting and pace of a Marx Brothers movie….This is one of the most amusingly complicated novels since David Lodge's Small World. By page 2, readers will know without any doubt that they are in for a wonderful time.” Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
“A paragon of academic satire, this novel is also a shining example of the drama of mistaken identities….Like much of Frayn's work, Skios is a virtuoso performance, and very funny, but underneath it all is a melancholy truth: many people are unhappy with who they are and wouldn't mind being mistaken for someone else.” The New Yorker
“Masterly crafted farce....Under Frayn's peerless choreography, the comedy gods of mistaken identity are having a mad romp. Frayn is so devilishly good at clicking the pieces into place that watching him build his contraption is its own entertainment.” Entertainment Weekly
“A witty Rube Goldberg construction of a novel....Think Being There set to the staccato pacing of Noises Off, and hold on to your funny bones.” Library Journal
“Truly does make you laugh out loud. I sniggered on the train and the bus; I sniggered in the kitchen, the bedroom and, on one occasion, in the shower. I wasn't reading the book in the shower, obviously. But I was thinking about it, and that was enough — Skios really is hilarious.” The Observer (UK)
About the Author
Michael Frayn is the author of ten novels, including the bestselling Headlong, which was a New York Times Editors' Choice selection and a Booker Prize finalist, and Spies, which received the Whitbread Fiction Award. He has also written a memoir, My Father's Fortune, and fifteen plays, among them Noises Off and Copenhagen, which won three Tony Awards. He lives just south of London.