BookBrowse Reviews The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

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The History of Love

by Nicole Krauss

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss X
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
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  • First Published:
    May 2005, 252 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2006, 272 pages

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A most unusual and original piece of fiction - not to be missed. Novel

From the book jacket: 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 loneliness.

Leo Gursky's life is 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, he fell in love and wrote a book. And though he 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 full—keeping track of her brother, Bird (who thinks he might be the Messiah), and taking copious notes on How to Survive in the Wild—she undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family.

Comment: Krauss says that The History of Love was inspired by her four grandparents (it is partially dedicated to "My grandparents, who taught me the opposite of disappearing.") and by a pantheon of authors whose work is haunted by loss—Bruno Schulz, Franz Kafka, Isaac Babel, and more. Book rights have already been sold in at least 20 countries.

When asked how she found the right voice for Leo Gursky, she says, 'It was easy in that I just wasn't looking for it, or him. One day I had his voice in my head, and I started writing, and it turned out to be the beginning of the novel. Honestly, he feels like me. It was never a stretch to write in his voice; I never sat around scratching my head, wondering what he'd think or how he'd say something.....When I started, I'd decided to write a book with no plot. Devising plots didn't seem like my strength, which didn't bother me too much, since the books I love generally don't depend on them. For a long time all I had was Leo's voice. Then Alma's. I had these little bits of The History of Love which I didn't know yet were going to become a book within a book--they were just vignettes.'

Note: Do not confuse Nicola Krause, co-author of The Nanny Diaries with Nicole Krauss, author of This History of Love - they are two very different people and two very different books!

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in June 2005, and has been updated for the May 2006 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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