"Double or Nothing" is a concrete novel - one in which the words become physical materials on the page. Federman gives each page a shape: makes it into a picture. The words move, cluster, jostle and collide in a tour de force full of puns, parodies and imitations. Within these startling and playful structures, Federman develops two characters and two narratives.The first of these deals with the narrator and his effort to make the book; the second deals with the story that the narrator intends to tell: the story of a young man's arrival in America from post-war Europe. The character of the young man clearly emerges from his obsessions; madly transfixing details - noodles, toothpaste, a first subway ride, a sock full of dollars - become milestones in the young man's discovery of America. These details, combined with the desperation of the characters, create a book that is at the same time hilarious and frightening. "Double or Nothing", a classic of innovative fiction, challenges not only the way that we read fiction, but the way that we see words.
Raymond Federman was born in France, and went to the United States soon after World War II. At the age of 14, Federman was hastily thrust into the small upstairs closet of their Paris apartment by his mother just before she, his father and two sisters were taken to Auschwitz, where they were killed. Federman's work focuses on the attempt to find a language appropriate for the enormity of the Holocaust and his part in its legacy; ultimately he espouses the concept of laughterature - laughter as a means of survival.Federman is considered internationally to be one of the most influential representatives of postmodern literature. As well as novels, his work encompasses books of poetry, essays, criticism and translations, it has been translated into a dozen languages, been adapted for stage and screen, and has received numerous awards - including the American Book Award (1986). Federman now lives in San Diego, California.