Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Skios” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.08  ·  Rating Details ·  3,031 Ratings  ·  610 Reviews
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and a Washington Post Notable Book of the Year

On the private Greek island of Skios, the high-paying guests of a world-renowned foundation prepare for the annual keynote address, to be given this year by Dr. Norman Wilfred, an aging and ponderous authority on the scientific organization of science. He turns out to be surprisingly youthful
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 28th 2013 by Picador (first published 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Skios, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Skios

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
This is the only novel I've read by Frayn which has somewhat disappointed me and I think I know why. It isn't a novel. It's a play, or more likely, it's a screen play.

One of the very finest things Frayn does (and that is high praise indeed) is frantic farce. He does Fawlty Towers better than John Cleese did it. The human disposition for disaster is something he explores hilariously in Noises Off and again in Clockwise. Not for the first or last time I rue the ignorant critical reception this mov

This 'mistaken identity' farce takes place on the beautiful Greek island of Skios. Dr. Norman Wilfred, a well-known British scientist (in some very small circles), is on his way to deliver an esoteric lecture to the annual meeting of the hoity-toity Fred Toppler Foundation. Wilfred's been invited by the event organizer, Nikki Hook - who believes she's found a gem of a lecturer (unlike her predecessors' poor boring choices). The plane to Skios is also carrying fellow Brit Oliver Fox, a good-looki
May 03, 2012 Trish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Skios may a play posing as a novel, but it is in good company: practically all the characters in this very funny farce are pretending to be someone they are not. And those that don’t pretend to be someone else have it forced upon them. I listened to the audio production of this book, performed with great comedic timing by Robin Sachs, and feel sure that this book is best enjoyed as a performance rather than as a reading experience.

The Fred Toppler Foundation, established by a once-stripper wife
Dec 29, 2012 Judith rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was going to be very gently disparaging about this book, always thinking that the author could accidentally happen on this site and accidentally read a review and he seems like a nice guy so I didn't want to accidentally hurt his feelings. Then I did something I never do which was to look at the other reviews on this site BEFORE I wrote my review and I saw that he has such rave reviews he can toss off mine like crumbs from the breakfast toast. So since there is no risk of the author slitting h ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
It makes sense that Michael Frayn is best known for his plays, because it is impossible to read this without seeing it staged in my mind. Only after I finished it did I realize he is the same playwright who wrote Noises Off. It has the same feeling to it - farce, silliness, chaos, characters who are so wrapped up in being themselves that they don't pay attention or fix their own problems; necessary for the entire thing to work.

Instead of a stage, this is set on a tiny Greek isle. I laughed a lot
A witty, clever farce. Frayn is very skillful in his use of comedy here, and he takes his time building up the characters so that—by the time one is midway through the novel—his continued introductions and complications are just uproariously fantastical and often laugh-out-loud hysterical.

Frayn's use of dialogue is very smart: I was often reminded of reading a script at times, something that works quite well for the more darkly humorous episodes in Skios as one can almost see this enacted as if
Jul 29, 2012 yexxo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ach war das schön! Endlich mal wieder eine Komödie im besten Sinne des Wortes. Kein lauter Schenkelklopfer, eher eine 'Schmunzelgeschichte' da man das Grinsen nicht wieder wegbekommt, bevor man das Buch aus der Hand legt.
Dr. Norman Wilfred, ein berühmter Wissenschaftler, reist auf die kleine griechische Insel Skios, um dort bei der Fred-Toppler-Stiftung (die die zivilisierten Werte fördert, was immer die auch sein mögen) einen Vortrag zu halten - der Höhepunkt der jährlichen Hausparty. Gleichzei
Michael Kipnis
Nov 20, 2013 Michael Kipnis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of all, I have to admit that I had some doubts with my rating of the book. From the one hand, in its genre it is a very good example of easy-reding, it might be mentioned that "Skios" does not pretend to be a serious book with strong system of images, which needs careful analysis. Moreover, when I discovered that the author, Michael Frayn, is 80 years old I was almost shocked, because the book looks very contemporary, it has very nice language, without difficult constructions. So, it is no ...more
Jim Leffert
From the author of that sublime theatrical farce, Noises Off, comes this loopy tale. It's about an array of misguided characters who get into a barrel full of pickles at a foundation’s annual conference at the foundation's archeologically rich and scenic estate on Skios, a Greek island. Front and center, we have the invited keynote speaker, Norman Wilfred, who ends up elsewhere on the island, and a charming bounder named Oliver Fox, who is taking his place. Fox, who has swiped Wilfred’s identity ...more
Nov 20, 2013 Egor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a sort of those nice books that you read without trying to follow the plot or getting the main idea - you read just to enjoy the process. From this point of view, Skios is perfect.
However, there are some weaknesses to complain of. First of all, the plot was really complicated, even a bit labyrinthine, especially for a non-native speaker. It took me really long to puzzle out who was who. What really puzzled me is that Annuka Vos, a character that was mentioned only in few odd remarks, fin
Aaron (Typographical Era)
Humorous. Hilarious. Absurd. Funny. All of these words can be used to adequately describe the tightly written, complex ensemble of off the wall characters that populate the world of Michael Frayn’s Skios, but only one word can accurately describe the story itself: farce. Judging this novel by the very definition of this word – a light dramatic composition marked by broadly satirical comedy and improbable plot – Skios effortlessly exceeds all expectations, but is worthy of the Man Booker Prize? U ...more
Aug 26, 2012 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
Don't get me wrong. This was very amusing fluff, skillfully executed. Frayn is, after all, the author of "Noises Off", so his chops for farce are indisputable. But farce is like souffle - it's fun at the time, but you'll have forgotten it by the next day. Other than the deus ex machina at the end, the story in "Skios" unfolded along completely predictable lines. Nothing wrong with that -- I think part of the pleasure in reading this kind of story is seeing how well the author acquits himself wit ...more
Jul 25, 2014 Lobstergirl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction

Deeply stupid.

I just noticed that this was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Of course it was.

It could have been a funny and worthy novel. The overlearned academic in a Davos-type situation, except with half the learned audience replaced by numskulls, had potential. But Frayn took it off the deep end early, and from there it couldn't go anywhere good.

So despite being a short novel, it quickly became tedious and repetitive.
Robert Wechsler
Aug 20, 2013 Robert Wechsler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-lit
Reading this novel, I thought a lot about prose (as opposed to dramatic) farce, why it is difficult to write and why it is an excellent discipline for aspiring writers.

Farce is a very formal genre, with rules equivalent to meter and rhyme scheme. But it is genre written downhill. Setting up the situations gives them a momentum that an author has to keep up with in order to control. A farce out of control is not a farce. That is why most farcical American literature is something other than farce.
Mal Warwick
A Funny Story by a Veteran British Playwrignt and Author

You may have heard of Michael Frayn without remembering his name. The successful British playwright and novelist is best known for the stage plays Noises Off, a frequently produced farce of mistaken identities, and Copenhagen, which portrays a meeting in 1941 between two of the giants of 20th Century physics, Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, at a time when Heisenberg was thought to be working on an atomic bomb for the Nazi regime.

In Skios,
Elisha Condie
Aug 07, 2012 Elisha Condie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm helpless when presented with these kind of books (...or movies...or tv shows...) - characters stumbling over one another in a carefully choreographed farce gets me Every. Single. Time. I love it.

This author wrote the play "Noises Off" which I saw as a kid and still remember just loving. This book is about the fancy Toppler Foundation on the island of Skios in Greece. An intellectual is due to speak, gets mixed up in a case of mistaken identity with the charismatic free spirit who takes it
Sep 13, 2012 Chuck rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Skios is absolutely hilarious . . . at least until one crosses the midpoint. As Shakespeare demonstrated with The Comedy of Errors, it is possible to construct a successful comical farce, based on mistaken identities, in a relatively short amount of space. If Michael Frayn had followed the Bard's example, he might well have produced a clear winner. But Frayn apparently couldn't resist the temptation to extend and to complicate, and in the process of falling into that trap, he ends up undercuttin ...more
Jul 18, 2013 Davidg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let's be honest, this is silly farcical book with a silly farcical plot. One of the one star reviews complains that it is not believeable, and it isn't. It is a farce, written by a master farceur. Frayn has said that he wanted to see if it were possible to write the same sort of farce as you find in the theatre as a novel and apart from one huge flaw he has succeeded.

I won't summarise the plot, others have tried, but like all farces it just gets more complicated and sillier as it goes on. And n
Nicola Sheppey
I bought this book for a holiday read after spotting it in Waterstones. The reviews and the fact it was longlisted for the Booker prize grabbed me; I wanted a light, easy read but also something clever and unique. This did not look set to disappoint... but sadly, it did.

The opening was promising, but as the book progressed it felt like it was going in circles. The characters made stupid decisions and didn't seem to treat their situations seriously at all. Oliver was downright dislikable, I pitie
Nov 11, 2012 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Frayn’s novel Skios is comic, witty, provocative and outlandish. I picked it up because it is set on a Greek island, and I love Greek islands, and it clearly was determined to make farcical fun of a foundation pow-wow, and that appealed to me, too. There’s something about pretentious gatherings in idyllic places--islands, old castles, alpine lodges and seigniorial estates--that begs for laughter but seldom is given its due.

Frayn’s central device is the core of comedy going back millennia
May 09, 2013 DubaiReader rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible, 2013
Having thoroughly enjoyed Spies by Michael Frayn, I have not found the other books that I've read by him to be anywhere near as good. Skios was no exception. It was full of irritatingly stupid people with no idea where they are or what they are supposed to be doing. It was better suited to a play in the genre of farce, which I would then avoid.

The main character is Oliver Fox, who decides to take on the identity of Dr Norman Wilfred, simply because he takes a fancy to the young lad
Elizabeth Moffat
I haven’t read anything by Michael Frayn before although I have heard a lot of good things, so when this novel was long-listed for the Man Booker prize last year I thought I’d give it a go. The story is about a bizarre and amusing mix up when Oliver Fox, a young man bored with his life and looking for some excitement decides to pretend to be someone else. Except that someone else is an emminent lecturer who is due to give a talk to some V.I.P’s at the Fred Toppler foundation. Meanwhile, the real ...more
Helena Halme
I've read a few of Michael Frayn's books and although they're not my kind of novels, I've enjoyed reading them and even found myself thinking back to the characters long after. This is strange, since I feel the characters are exactly what annoy me in his stories.

Take Skios, his latest book. All the main protagonists in this novel are far too close to being caricatures for my liking: There's the celebrated scientist Dr Wilfred, who is due to deliver a speech at a high-brow event at something cal
Nov 20, 2013 Natalie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think reading this book isn't the waste of time. It's hilarious, easy and it just helps you to relax after a busy day.
I like it when there are a lot of plot lines in the book and in the end they all come to one point. All characters meet with each other, the truth comes out and everything seems so clear, because all secrets are out... And then there's another plot twist, and you wonder, how it could happen and what if it didn't happen.
The plot is gripping, because you can't even imagine what
Dillwynia Peter

When one thinks of all the stories of mistaken identity and the funny consequences that have been written about over the centuries, one suddenly wonders why it is absent from literature now. Or so I thought, but as I read this it hit me. Modern technology has killed this off. You can't be easily mistaken with the volume of data about everyone - all those pics, all that documentation etc.

And this is why this book has serious issues; in fact, it only works if you go into
May 04, 2012 H. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-spec-fic
Skios is only a middling farce. Thankfully, it is also a first-rate satire.

Nikki, a PR professional at foundation that appears to exist mainly as an excuse to give the wealthy a reason to take out their yachts, has invited Dr. Norman Wilfred, leading academic expert on the scientific management of science to speak at the foundation's annual gala event. But when Nikki mistakenly picks up an reluctant grifter at the airport instead of Dr. Wilfred, (mild) hilarity ensues.

As a farce, it's pretty sta
This will never win the Man Booker 2012 (for which it has been longlisted). It's much too entertaining and not nearly as depressing as The Gathering, Finkler's Question, or Sense of an Ending, all of which I found completely dreary. Skios is fun, light, and ridiculous. It's a glass of sparkling wine on a hot sunny day in the Greek Islands. Booker winners tend to be more like a glass of whisky, straight, on a rainy day in Ireland, served to you by a surly bartender in need of Prozac.

A fun read, f
May 27, 2012 Biogeek rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A disappointment from the author of the hilarious Noises Off, the absurd Headlong and the moving Spies. This novel must have been envisioned as French farce, but lacked the witty dialog or believable scenarios that a contemporary audience looks for. While it has enough mistaken identities to fill a swimming pool, and every chapter seems to revolve around a well-mistimed entrance or exit, the novel also unfortunately is populated by British yuppies, a stereotypical academic and caricatures of var ...more
Jul 25, 2012 Anmiryam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I loved Headlong, and I usually love farce, so why didn't I warm to Michael Frayn's latest contribution to the genre? Honestly, it was because he wound up the action to a fever pitch and then attempted to parody parody by constructing an ending that scatters all of the protagonists instead of resolving the accumulated misunderstandings and identity confusion that farce classically demands. True, if he had followed the well-worn tropes of the genre the book would have failed for a different reaso ...more
Alice Meloy
Two men, arriving on the same flight at the airport on the Greek island of Skios, manage to get both their luggage and their destinations mixed up, setting off parallel chains of events that are beautifully constructed farce. One is to deliver a lecture on scientometrics and the other is to meet up with a new girlfriend at a secluded villa for a weekend of fun. Quirky characters abound, along with some laugh outloud funny scenes when each of the men finds himself in the other's shoes - literally ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Wow, this book was a... 1 9 Feb 08, 2015 10:14PM  
BookerMarks: Discussion forum for Skios 19 21 Aug 29, 2012 08:22AM  
BookerMarks: Know Your Booker!: Skios 1 6 Aug 29, 2012 08:00AM  
BookerMarks: Third BookerMarks review of Skios 1 8 Aug 24, 2012 11:29AM  
  • Communion Town
  • The Yips
  • Philida
  • The Lighthouse
  • Umbrella
  • Swimming Home
  • The Teleportation Accident
  • Narcopolis
  • Zoo Time
  • Derby Day
  • A Cupboard Full of Coats
  • The Garden of Evening Mists
  • The Last Hundred Days
  • On Canaan's Side
  • A Man With A Camera
  • Orkney
  • Aire de Dylan
  • La Reina Isabel Cantaba Rancheras
Michael Frayn is an English playwright and novelist. He is best known as the author of the farce Noises Off and the dramas Copenhagen and Democracy. His novels, such as Towards the End of the Morning, Headlong and Spies, have also been critical and commercial successes, making him one of the handful of writers in the English language to succeed in both drama and prose fiction. His works often rais ...more
More about Michael Frayn...

Share This Book

14 trivia questions
1 quiz
More quizzes & trivia...
“The almost egregiously English couple, Cedric and Rosamund Chailey, had slipped quietly away when the conversation turned to God. It had not seemed polite to be present when anything so American was being discussed.” 2 likes
More quotes…