Jules Epstein, a man whose drive, avidity, and personality have, for sixty-eight years, been a force to be reckoned with, is undergoing a metamorphosis. In the wake of his parents' deaths, his divorce from a thirty-year marriage, and his retirement from the New York legal firm where he was a partner, he begins shedding the possessions he spent a lifetime accumulating - a watch here, an Old Master there - and becomes elusive, distant. Resolving to do something to commemorate his parents, he travels to Tel Aviv and checks into the Hilton.
Meanwhile, a novelist leaves her husband and children behind in Brooklyn and arrives at the same hotel, hoping that the view of the pool she used to dive into on childhood holidays will unlock her writer's block. But when a retired professor of literature recruits her for a project involving Kafka, she is drawn into a mystery that will take her on a metaphysical journey and change her in ways she could never have imagined.
Shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2006 and winner of the 2006 Prix du Meilleur Livre etranger, The History of Love explores the lasting power of the written word and the lasting power of love. Published as a Penguin Essential for the first time. 'When I was born my mother named me after every girl in a book my father gave her called The History of Love. . . ' Fourteen-year-old Alma Singer is trying to find a cure for her mother's loneliness. Believing she might discover it in an old book her mother is lovingly translating, she sets out in search of its author. Across New York an old man called Leo Gursky is trying to survive a little bit longer. He spends his days dreaming of the love lost that sixty years ago in Poland inspired him to write a book. And although he doesn't know it yet, that book also survived: crossing oceans and generations, and changing lives. . . 'Wonderfully affecting...brilliant, touching and remarkably poised' Sunday Telegraph 'A tender tribute to human valiance. Who could be unmoved by a cast of characters whose daily battles are etched on out mind in such diamond-cut prose?' Independent on Sunday 'Devastating...one of the most passionate vindications of the written word in recent fiction. It takes one's breath away' Spectator
During the winter of 1972, a woman spends a single night with a young Chilean poet before he departs New York, leaving her his desk. It is the only time they ever meet. Two years later, he is arrested by Pinochet's secret police and never seen again. Across the ocean, in the leafy suburbs of London, a man caring for his dying wife discovers a lock of hair among her papers that unravels a terrible secret. In Jerusalem, an antiques dealer has spent a lifetime reassembling his father's study, plundered by the Nazis from Budapest in 1944; now only one item remains to be found.
Connecting these lives is a desk of many drawers that exerts a power over those who possess it or give it away. And as the narrators of Great House make their confessions, this desk comes finally to stand for all that has been taken from them, and all that binds them to what has disappeared.
Great House is a story haunted by questions: What do we pass on to our children and how do they absorb our dreams and losses? How do we respond to disappearance, destruction, and change?
Nicole Krauss has written a soaring, powerful novel about memory struggling to create a meaningful permanence in the face of inevitable loss.
In this dazzling collection of short fiction, the National Book Award Finalist and New York Times bestselling author of The History of Love --"one of America's most important novelists and an international literary sensation" ( New York Times )--explores what it means to be in a couple, and to be a man or a woman in that perplexing relationship and beyond. In one of her strongest works of fiction yet, Nicole Krauss plunges fearlessly into the struggle to understand what it is to be a man and what it is to be a woman, and the arising tensions that have existed from the very beginning of time. Set in our contemporary moment, and moving across the globe from Switzerland, Japan, and New York City to Tel Aviv, Los Angeles, and South America, the stories in To Be a Man feature male characters as fathers, lovers, friends, children, seducers, and even a lost husband who may never have been a husband at all. The way these stories mirror one other and resonate is beautiful, with a balance so finely tuned that the book almost feels like a novel. Echoes ring through stages of life: aging parents and new-born babies; young women's coming of age and the newfound, somewhat bewildering sexual power that accompanies it; generational gaps and unexpected deliveries of strange new leases on life; mystery and wonder at a life lived or a future waiting to unfold. To Be a Man illuminates with a fierce, unwavering light the forces driving human existence: sex, power, violence, passion, self-discovery, growing older. Profound, poignant, and brilliant, Krauss's stories are at once startling and deeply moving, but always revealing of all-too-human weakness and strength.