The Appointment

Katharina Volckmer

French paperback with flaps, 104 pages | Audiobook read by Katharina Volckmer
Published 2 September 2020

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In a well-appointed examination in London, a young woman unburdens herself to a certain Dr Seligman. Though she can barely see above his head, she holds forth about her life and desires, and her struggles with her sexuality and identity. Born and raised in Germany, she has been living in London for several years, determined to break free from her family origins and her haunted homeland. In a monologue that is both razor-sharp and subversively funny, she takes us on a wide-ranging journey from outré sexual fantasies and overbearing mothers to the medicinal properties of squirrel tails and the enduring legacy of shame. With The Appointment, her audacious debut novel, Katharina Volckmer challenges our notions of what is fluid and what is fixed and injects a dose of Bernhardian snark into contemporary British fiction.

TLS Books of the Year 2020 | LA Times Books That Got Lost in 2020

‘Surprising, inventive, disturbing and beautiful – The Appointment is an overdue, radical intervention.’ 
— Chris Kraus, author of I Love Dick

‘Katharina Volckmer is a risk-taker of the first degree. Her monologue is of hypnotic, lyrical invention and wit, coruscating self-loathing, profound pessimism and fragile hope. As dark and brilliant as The Naked Lunch. The Appointment is also mesmerisingly beautiful.’
— Ian McEwan, author of The Cockroach

‘[A] transgressive, darkly funny novel.’ 
New Yorker

‘Katharina Volckmer’s debut, The Appointment, is the most audacious novel I have read in years…. [It] is horribly funny and shockingly good; if the best writing takes a risk, this is Russian roulette.’
— Frances Wilson, TLS

‘Audacious … hilariously funny. The prose is immaculate, she captures you, buttonholes you from the very first page…. It is better than it has any right to be for a first book.’
John Mitchinson, Backlisted

‘It is also deftly subtle, never binding the narrator to a determined gender identity or to a specific historical or national inheritance. At once sexy, hilarious, and subversive, the book is also acutely sad. Desire, in this novel, takes many forms: the desire to be heard, the desire to be otherwise, the desire for a different past and a different future.’
— RL Goldberg, Paris Review

‘[Volckmer] is especially acute on Germany’s handling of war guilt, particularly for her generation…. But beneath her narrator’s bullishness and bombast lies an emotional vulnerability, which Volckmer conceals and reveals with deft control…. The Appointment is serious and challenging. Volckmer movingly explores the complexities not only of [the narrator’s] gender identity but also of all those living against the grain, looking out from the margins at those whose existences are “immediately understandable for everyone”.’
— Alexander Leissle, TLS

‘Volckmer plays with what she calls the “anarchic” space of dark humor, which allows the novel to evade narrow labels such as “Holocaust story” or “trans story.” Even as it shrugs off those labels, it still powerfully addresses genocide, gender identity, and transphobia.’
— Lily Meyersohn, Los Angeles Review of Books

‘This is a very short book, but is long on ideas to ponder well beyond the last word.’

The Appointment champions the ”not either/or, but both-and”; its articulated rage against gender binaries makes it more than just an artful provocation.’
— Review 31

 ‘Volckmer’s elegant construction never draws attention to such writerly manoeuvres; physical descriptions, hints about Dr. Seligman’s practice, and information about other characters mentioned throughout accumulate naturally and never feel shoehorned in…. At a time when so few novels are published of which even that much can be said, Volckmer’s “mere” competence – her avoidance of clunky similes and unwieldy syntax – is refreshing. So, too, is her gleeful provocation, which, like that of Ottessa Moshfegh, is never in service to glib nihilism or amorality. In fact, this is a deeply moral book, one that, beneath the graphic sex talk and raucous vitriol, is concerned with contemporary Europe’s historical trauma, the oppressiveness of traditional gender roles, and one’s personal responsibility to the past. It remains to be seen what kind of career Volckmer will have, but consider The Appointment a warning shot fired across the bow of the modern novel.’
Seth Katz, Slant Magazine

‘It is striking both in both structure and content — an unbroken monologue in a consultation office for a penile construction surgery – and by turns knowingly shocking and slyly tender. The prose is breathless and erratic, littered with rhetorical questions and rapid changes in thematic direction. Through its relentless vulnerability, The Appointment elevates the role of the reader from passive voyeur to therapist; you are being begged to listen.… At its core, though, The Appointment is unerringly incisive at capturing the pervasive emptiness that characterises the 21st century millennial experience.’  
— Ella Fox-Martens, SOFTPUNK

The Appointment is a wonderful first novel – at once savage and precise, hypercomical and furious. It has all the authority of true chutzpah.’
— Adam Thirlwell, author of Lurid & Cute

The Appointment is an incredible debut; utterly compelling, its vibrant, incisive voice surprises and enlivens the reader on every page. It’s darkly hilarious, moving and original. I loved it.’
— Megan Hunter, author of The Harpy

‘A book destined to enter the list of great monologues of literary history. If Dostoevsky’s underground man had read both Thomas Bernhard and Maggie Nelson, he might have conjured something as brave as this.’
— Carlos Fonseca, author of Natural History

The Appointment is transgressive, spiky, full of ideas but astonishingly light-footed, written in beautiful, unsettling prose, and very, very funny – in short, everything a novel should be.’
— Adam Biles, author of Feeding Time

‘Katharina Volckmer is a wild new talent, and unlike, say, twentieth-century Europe, The Appointment succeeds in justifying its obscenities.’
— Joshua Cohen, author of The Book of Numbers

The Appointment is an epic truth bomb, a radical, hilarious roller-coaster, raw and wild as they come. The way this novel delights in itself, taking pleasure in its singularity and perversity, is the perfect antidote to boredom and bullshit. To read stories that are unapologetic is to be granted the courage to be more honest ourselves, which is one way literature actually can save the world.’
— Elisa Albert, author of After Birth

Katharina Volckmer was born in Germany in 1987. She lives in London, where she works for a literary agency. The Appointment is her first novel.