A long-lost book reappears, mysteriously connecting an old
man searching for his son and a girl seeking a cure for her widowed mother's
Leo Gursky's life is just about surviving, tapping his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he's still alive. But life wasn't always like this: sixty years ago, in the Polish village where he was born, Leo fell in love and wrote a book. And though Leo doesn't know it, that book survived, inspiring fabulous circumstances, even love. Fourteen-year-old Alma was named after a character in that very book. And although she has her hands fullkeeping track of her brother, Bird (who thinks he might be the Messiah), and taking copious notes on How to Survive in the Wildshe undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family. With consummate, spellbinding skill, Nicole Krauss gradually draws together their stories.
This extraordinary book was inspired by the author's four grandparents and by a pantheon of authors whose work is haunted by lossBruno Schulz, Franz Kafka, Isaac Babel, and more. It is truly a history of love: a tale brimming with laughter, irony, passion, and soaring imaginative power.
THE LAST WORDS ON EARTH
When they write my obituary. Tomorrow. Or the next day. It will say, LEO GURSKY IS SURVIVED BY AN APARTMENT FULL OF SHIT. I'm surprised I haven't been buried alive. The place isn't big. I have to struggle to keep a path clear between bed and toilet, toilet and kitchen table, kitchen table and front door. If I want to get from the toilet to the front door, impossible, I have to go by way of the kitchen table. I like to imagine the bed as home plate, the toilet as first, the kitchen table as second, the front door as third: should the doorbell ring while I am lying in bed, I have to round the toilet and the kitchen table in order to arrive at the door. If it happens to be Bruno, I let him in without a word and then jog back to bed, the roar of the invisible crowd ringing in my ears. I often wonder who will be the last person to see me alive. If I had to bet, I'd bet on the delivery boy from the Chinese take-out. ...
Krauss spent her childhood on Long Island and has degrees from Stanford and
Oxford. Well into her twenties, she wrote poetry, which "felt like the
great goal of the language (she was a lot like the 14-year-old narrator of
The History of Love, Alma Singer, who
wants to be a survivalist, compiles obsessive lists,
and is an avid collector). Then she abruptly quit
poetry having set aside "an impossible quest for poetic precision".
Her first novel, Man Walks Into a Room, was very well received and was followed by a six-figure, two-book deal. Speaking of her first book she says, "Getting a book published made me feel a little bit sad ...... I felt driven by the need to write a book, rather ...
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