Allen Kurzweil biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Allen Kurzweil

Allen Kurzweil

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 potato chips.

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.

Allen Kurzweil's website

This bio was last updated on 08/03/2016. We try to keep BookBrowse's biographies both up to date and accurate, but with many thousands of lives to keep track of it's a tough task. So, please help us - if the information about this author is out of date or inaccurate, and you know of a more complete source, please let us know. Authors and publishers: If you wish to make changes to a bio, send the complete biography as you would like it displayed so that we can replace the old with the new.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Interview

Allen Kurzweil reveals why it took a decade to complete A Grand Complication and the fascinating history behind the "grand complication" timepiece.

The Grand Complication took nearly a decade to complete. Why?
The short answer is this: The subject of the book— the heist of a priceless pocket watch from a private museum in Israel — demanded a huge amount of investigation. Over time, my curiosities, and those of my characters, expanded to include library cataloging, pop-up books, tattoos, security systems, secret compartments, the history of French watchmaking, and book design.

Did you have any say in the design of The Grand Complication
Absolutely. It's a myth that publishers refuse the input of authors. I worked very closely with the editors. It wasn't easy, but in the end, we managed to lay out the book the way the characters in the novel envisioned it.

Meaning?
The characters imagine a book that comes full circle in exactly 360 pages — a book that has little gears that turn as the book advances. Happily, those devices appear in the published work.

Was the "grand complication" timepiece your invention?
It depends what you mean by "timepiece." The story is my invention, the watch is not. The actual timepiece that gives the book its title was the creation of France's greatest watchmaker, Abraham-Louis Breguet. Breguet ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Books by this Author

Books by Allen Kurzweil at BookBrowse
The Grand Complication jacket
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Allen Kurzweil but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Martin Davies

    Martin Davies

    Martin Davies is the author of mysteries featuring Sherlock Holmes's housekeeper: Mrs. Hudson and the Spirits' Curse (2004), Mrs. Hudson and the Malabar Rose (2005), and The Conjurer's Bird (2006). His most recent work ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Grand Complication

    Try:
    The Conjurer's Bird
    by Martin Davies

  • Michael Gruber

    Michael Gruber

    Michael Gruber was born and raised in New York City, and educated in its public schools. He went to Columbia, earning a BA in English literature. After college he did editorial work at various small magazines in New York,... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Grand Complication

    Try:
    The Book of Air and Shadows
    by Michael Gruber

We recommend 8 similar authors

View all 8 Readalikes

Non-members can see 2 results. Become a member
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Treeborne
    Treeborne
    by Caleb Johnson
    The Treeborne family has lived on The Seven – the local sobriquet for a seven-acre stretch of ...
  • Book Jacket
    Grace
    by Paul Lynch
    Harrowing. Gorgeous. Epic. Grace, Paul Lynch's coming of age novel about a young woman, is set ...
  • Book Jacket: The Perfectionists
    The Perfectionists
    by Simon Winchester
    We seek precision in our lives every day. We want to drive from home to work and work to home safely...
  • Book Jacket: Beauty in the Broken Places
    Beauty in the Broken Places
    by Allison Pataki
    Ernest Hemingway wrote that we are "strong at the broken places," and Allison Pataki found that to ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson

An audacious American epic set in rural Georgia during the years of the Depression and Prohibition.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Family Tabor
    by Cherise Wolas

    Wolas's gorgeously rendered sophomore novel reckons with the nature of the stories we tell ourselves.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Summer Wives
    by Beatriz Williams

    An electrifying postwar fable of love, class, power and redemption set on an island off the New England coast.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win A Place for Us

A Place For Us

A deeply moving story of love, identity and belonging--the first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker's new imprint.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

H, W H A Problem

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.