Allen Kurzweil Biography
The son of Viennese émigrés, novelist Allen Kurzweil was raised in Europe and
the United States. Educated at Yale and the University of Rome, he worked for
ten years as a freelance journalist in France, Italy, and Australia before
settling in the United States and turning his attention to fiction.
His first novel, A Case of Curiosities, (Harcourt, 1992) the chronicle of
an eighteenth-century mechanical genius, received international critical
acclaim. Translated into twelve languages, it earned literary honors in England,
Ireland, Italy, and France. The novel was reissued by Harvest Books in 2001.
Kurzweil's next novel, The Grand Complication (Hyperion/Theia Books 2001)
redirected the author's love of invention to twentieth-century New York. As with
the first book, The Grand Complication is steeped in the world of watches
and watchmaking; indeed, the "grand complication" of the title is a 200-year-old
timepiece commissioned for Marie Antoinette and stolen from a Jerusalem museum
in 1983. To research the circumstances of the theft, Kurzweil spent nearly five
years crisscrossing Europe and the Middle East, interviewing detectives,
curators, horologists and watch dealers.
Devotion to the complicated passions of his characters has led Allen Kurzweil to take
courses in pop-up book design, study the repair of player-pianos and work behind
the reference desk of a public library. He regularly constructs the contraptions
"invented" by his characters. To date these devices have included roll-players,
potato cannons, and color wheels designed to distinguish different brands of
Despite a lackluster performance in grade school, Kurzweil, since 2002, has been
writing children's books. He has published two novels in the bestselling "Leon"
series: Leon and the Spitting Image (2003) followed by Leon and the
Champion Chip (2005).
Allen has received fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the Guggenheim
Foundation, and the New York Public Library Center for Scholars & Writers. He
currently sits on the board of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities and
is a fellow at the John Nicholas Brown Center for the Study of American
Civilization at Brown University. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island with his
wife and son.
This biography was last updated on 08/10/2011.
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