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Kapitoil Paperback – 22 Jul 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd (22 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0715638947
  • ISBN-13: 978-0715638941
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 598,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Teddy Wayne is the author of the novel Kapitoil (Duckworth) and is the recipient of a 2011 Whiting Writers' Award and an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, and was the 2011 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize runner-up and a finalist for the 2011 New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award and the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. He is a graduate of Harvard and Washington University in St. Louis, where he taught fiction and creative nonfiction writing. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Time, Esquire, McSweeney's, the Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. He lives in New York.

Product Description


'The first funny novel about oil' -- GQ. ''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' --Jonathan Franzen

'Teddy 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 beter than Mohsin Hamid or Joseph O'Neill, the best authors of this genre until now... Wayne has completely foreseen and transcended the exhaustion of the 9/11 genre' -- The Boston Globe. 'Brilliant... a major literary talent' --Houston Chronicle

'This wonderfully assured debut novel, at once poignant, insightful, and funny, details Karim's passage through a new world of corporate sharks, Manhattan clubs, museums, Bob Dylan lyrics, and personal growth. Karim's English, always grammatically correct but stilted with terms from science, mathematics, computing, and business, 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 US' -- Booklist (starred review). 'With 'Kapitoil', Teddy Wayne invents - and perfects! - the pre-9/11 novel' --Vanity Fair

About the Author

Teddy Wayne is a graduate of Harvard and Washington University in St. Louis. He is the recipient of a 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 City.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Kapitoil follows the exploits of Qatari financial wizard and software programmer, Karim Issar as he relocates to New York to assist his employer, Schaub Equities, in combating against the Y2K bug which is due to hit in three months. It is not long before Karim develops a software application that looks to be of real value to the company. It's a piece of software that Karim christens `Kapitoil', and it's able to make solid revenue by predicting the future price of oil. It's not long before the `higher ups' begin to get interested in Karim's creation.

Now, I want to allay any fears that Kapitoil is nothing more than a dull `yawnathon' based around American corporations and business jargon. It's nothing of the sort! Although there are episodes when the narrative does turn to more boring aspects such as business talk, software engineering, number crunching and stock market predictions etc. (well the main character Karim Issar is a geeky computer whizz, after all), most of this novel is about one man trying to make sense of the oddities of New York life, while also trying to make himself fit in. It's more of an exploration of how someone gets to grips with an alien environment, and Teddy Wayne plays out this exploration incredibly well, using a character who is every bit as memorable as any you are likely to find, and with a storyline that exalts that character to the max.

The principal character, Karim's main stand out point is the distinctive `voice' and vocabulary that Teddy Wayne has engineered for him. And as Kapitoil is presented in the form of a personal journal - Karim's own personal journal - the reader is continually exposed to this main character's unique vocabulary; a vocabulary that another character in the novel refers to as 'Karim-esque'.
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Format: Paperback
From the minute I received the book and I started reading it I couldn't put it down. The novel is set in New York the main character is a brainy computer programmer from Qatar (the country will be hosting 2022 World Cup) who is deployed to the US to work on Y2K ( year 2000) project.I found this novel to be well written and well researched and full of subtle humor.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 44 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
This is a Stimulating Book to Upload to Your Brain 6 May 2010
By Howard Goldowsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The title of this review, "This is a Stimulating Book to Upload to Your Brain," is how Karim Issar the first-person narrator of Kapitoil speaks: in an idiosyncratic techno-prose indicative of his computer programming background and his use of English as a second language. Teddy Wayne has created a marvelous voice in Karim, somewhat reminiscent of Alex Perchov's Ukrainian voice in Jonathan Safron Foer's Everything Is Illuminated. Wayne worked a few years editing essays written by foreign students, so he's had an opportunity to study their way of speaking. Karim's voice is the most entertaining part of the novel; yet the novel is much, much more than that.

Karim comes to New York from Qatar to help work on the Y2K problem for his company, Schrub Equities (possible a satire on Schwab Equities). The year is 1999. The book is broken into chapters that are entries in Karim's journal. Karim projects all of your typical nerdy qualities: social awkwardness, good with math, meticulous about technical details. He's even observant when native English speakers employ "non-optimal grammar," as he puts it, in Karim-esque prose. The end of each journal entry lists the American idioms Karim came across that day, along with what they mean. As a hobby, Karim works on a computer program he invented to take advantage of the oil futures market. The program turns into a hit with his professional superiors, and before Karim knows it he is a star in the New York office (which, by the way, happens to be located in the World Trade Center). A series of serendipitous events happen that land Karim the "cream of the cream" girls, money, power, a-la Forrest Gump. A potential serious love interest parallels the main plot.

At its deepest level, this book is about how technical disciplines such as math, science, or programming trump the inexact feelings of social relations, while at the same time how proper social discourse remains immune to the fallibility of logic inherent within these disciplines. As Karim navigates the complexities of social interaction, in both the business world and in his personal life, he grows as a person. Slowly he changes, even beginning to utilize his glossary of idioms, in his own speech. Slowly he turns away from his Muslim background and adopts some aspects of American culture. By the end of the book Karim must make a decision: He must decide if he wants to absorb himself completely into the greed of American life, with the help of his money-making program, or return to his roots.

In some ways this book is a satire on corporate America, circa 1999; in some ways this book is a satire about the differences between American culture and traditional Muslim culture. Mostly, however, the book is a satire about people who are not honest with themselves or honest about their personal strengths and weaknesses. Karim himself doesn't even always do everything correct according to his moral compass. One of my favorite pieces of dialogue was said twice. In both cases it occurred when Karim needed to make a decision between having sex and what he believed to be the more morally correct choice. Karim was constantly worried about (and I paraphrase) "my body defeating my brain." In the end, however, Karim's humbleness and honesty about his social skills, confidence about his analytic abilities, and honesty in his journal about his transgressions -- and there are many transgression, to his Muslim faith, to his love interests, etc. -- makes him the hero of the book.

Teddy Wayne's ability to come up with incredible dialogue, dialogue that can propel a book's plot, carve characters, etc., solidifies, in my mind at least, his writing ability, and I'm looking forward to his second book. My only complaint was that some of the characters did not benefit as well from the "gimmicky" dialogue, and came across as somewhat two-dimensional. Otherwise I would have given the book five stars.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Amusing adventures of geeky Arab kid in New York 21 Oct. 2014
By Alan A. Elsner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is one of those books in which a computer-savvy hero with limited social skills undergoes a 'sentimental education'. In this case, the hero, Karim, comes to Manhattan from his home in Qatar in 1999 (that is to say before 9/11.) His job is to to help rewrite the code to avert the threat of the computer system of an international commodities trading conglomerate crashing at the turn of the millennium.

Karim combines the traits of foreigner abroad, befuddled by the ways of America, with those of classic nerd befuddled at the ways of humans. He narrates the book as if he too is a computer. He uploads information and downloads feedback. He checks for bugs. Each chapter ends with a handy glossary of the slang Karim has learned.

Karim quickly invents a system that plugs in news events to fluctuations on the oil market, netting his employer millions. He finds himself on the fact track, playing squash with the billionaire CEO.He gets to sit in the executive box at the Yankees, rides in his helicopter and is even finally to spend the weekend at the boss' Connecticut estate. Meanwhile Karim is drawn into a relationship with high-strung colleague Rebecca. He gets stoned,gets drunk and falls mildly in love. It's a complete American experience.

This is all mildly amusing. Karim is an entertaining narrator, although not always intentionally. It's instructive to view our own country and culture through foreign eyes although the picture reflected back is not always flattering. Karim eventually finds himself facing a moral dilemma which brings the book to a somewhat unsatisfactory conclusion. He does what he regards as the right thing. Readers are free to agree or disagree.

This book falls squarely into the tradition of the 'Connecticut Yankee at the Court of King Arthur.' We could call it 'Arab Geek at the Court of Wall Street.' It has some things to teach us but should not be taken too seriously.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Very Poor Plot and Character Development -- Not enjoyable to read at all 15 Nov. 2014
By James Berlin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thought this would be a good read, particularly because it was written in the Pre-9/11 Era of New York City, but I was very disappointed in the plot. The prose is clunky, and the author may claim it to be intentional, since it's written in a first-person perspective of a Qatari foreigner; yet, neither the plot nor the business/moral motives driving the characters in the story are compelling or logical.

The plot moves slowly, with very awkward romantic intrigue into what seems like should've been written as a thriller about New York finance firms; there's more family drama with trust fund babies more than actual ideas or actions driving the plot. Moreover, the motives of the characters seems to have been just mashed together, with some strange undercurrent of morality colliding with financial interest that really shows no basis from the main character.

Apart from the disastrous plot, the characters themselves are boring, inarticulate, and quite frankly amateurish caricatures that wouldn't be appropriate in a low-end student movie production. I really wouldn't recommend this to anybody.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Not bad 29 July 2011
By BronxRev - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I had heard some good reviews for it. Ultimately I was disappointed in what I read, but the story is finely crafted and tuned, so that alone is enough to warrant the three stars. The author has some very interesting ways to describe things and as we are given the protagonist's view of what he sees, his work leaks into what he sees. Some of his interactions are very real and heart warming (such as his main love interest as well as his relationship with his co-workers). In the end, however, the protagonist comes across as too flat of a character for me to have cared. This was supposed to be a great post 9-11 book, but I don't see why. Read it for the solid tale spun, nothing more.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good..but 2 April 2011
By Lynn G - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have to say I enjoyed most of the book. I've read reviews that said he had to decide in the end on greed or roots. It would have been far more interesting if we had some hint of this internal struggle somewhere in the book. He kept telling his sister to ignore his father's wishes and go for the stars, use her talents as he did, then, the weird surprise ending.
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