I Am No One reads like a collaboration between spy novelist John le Carre and Franz Kafka, the early 20th-century master of alienation and existential anxiety. It’s at once a beautifully written slow-motion thriller, an unnerving story of fear and paranoia, and a cautionary tale about the perils of spy satellites, security cameras and electronic surveillance by faceless government bureaucrats.
...exquisitely written, sinuously plotted and deliciously creepy ... But what should anyone, let alone some government agency, want with a nondescript professor at New York University? In its haunting exploration of this surreal yet timely question, Flanery’s self-assured I Am No One may do for the 21st century what Franz Kafka’s The Trial did for the 20th ... The ambiguity with which Flanery shrouds certain story elements, the better to heighten his protagonist’s (and presumably our own) sense of vulnerability, sometimes proves too thick.
...as the plot begins to creak through various twists and turns, stage-managed either by the author or his unreliable narrator, Jeremy can sound more like a nervous novelist than a traumatized professor ... Flanery is a writer capable of delicately layering elements of the surreal and absurd into his work, but in this novel the themes can seem rather thickly laid, prioritized over the characters and their sentences ... The instances of more aloof, detached narration tend to carry the book’s ideas forward with greater force, leaving us feeling we’re wired to a cold security camera and its fascinating, unfinished footage of events.