Swiss author Christian Kracht’s first translated novel, Imperium, focuses on a cluster of German colonies north of Australia in the early 20th century. On the remote isle of Kabakon presides the lone leader August Engelhardt, based on an actual German-born historical figure who founded an extreme sect with a peculiar interpretation of naturalism. In the novel, Engelhardt is an outsider and radical frugivore, who harvests—and near-exclusively subsists on—coconuts. An evangelical Robinson Crusoe with fervent idealism, he believes in the “sacred duty of paying homage to the sun” while naked (naturally). Increasingly removed from society, he becomes progressively unhinged and savage. A parade of ancillary characters come drifting in and out of the South Seas, their backstories recounted by an omniscient narrator, while the plantation slides into ruin and debt. Although originally published in 2012, there is a sprawling early-19th-century sensibility to Kracht’s work as the adventure unfolds, all expressed in loquacious prose.