Professor Francis Kauffman has unwittingly landed himself in prison where he's faced with an insurmountable task: execute a fellow inmate. Charged with igniting a political insurrection amongst his students at a university in Beijing, Kauffman is sent to the notorious Kun Chong Prison, where his existence grows stranger by the hour as he struggles with the weight of his imprisonment and his incurable need to write about it in a place where art is forbidden, and the inmates must act as executioners. As cultures clash in his filthy, crowded cell, it soon becomes clear that he's destined for a labor camp…or worse.


In this surreal and brutally honest literary thriller, Kauffman reflects on the turbulent family history that brought him to China, where he leads a solitary, expat life of soulless insurance jobs and all-night writing binges, only to wind up fighting a battle for his life inside the walls of Kun Chong. 


"K: A Novel will worm its way into your soul. Much like Professor Francis Kauffman, the novel's memorable protagonist, readers will feel both trapped and liberated. This is a novel for our times about the power of thought, art, truth, and expression and what it means to thrive when there are 'no windows to or from any other world.' A complete winner." —Mark Stevens, author of The Allison Coil Mystery Series

K: A Novel by Ted O'Connell

  • Santa Fe Writer's Project 2020

    New paperback

    296 pages