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The History of Love: A Novel

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The History of Love: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780393060348
ISBN10: 0393060349
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Less Than Standard
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Awards

The Rooster 2006 Morning News Tournament of Books Nominee

Staff Pick

In this brilliant work on love and loss, two stories, past and present, merge. With compassion and humor, Nicole Krauss writes a beautiful and incredibly imaginative novel, delivering readers through twists and turns to arrive at a wholly satisfying conclusion. Few more endearing characters can be found in literature today.
Recommended by Michal D., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 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 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. 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 loss — Bruno 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.

Review:

"The last words of this haunting novel resonate like a pealing bell. 'He fell in love. It was his life.' This is the unofficial obituary of octogenarian Leo Gursky, a character whose mordant wit, gallows humor and searching heart create an unforgettable portrait. Born in Poland and a WWII refugee in New York, Leo has become invisible to the world. When he leaves his tiny apartment, he deliberately draws attention to himself to be sure he exists. What's really missing in his life is the woman he has always loved, the son who doesn't know that Leo is his father, and his lost novel, called The History of Love, which, unbeknownst to Leo, was published years ago in Chile under a different man's name. Another family in New York has also been truncated by loss. Teenager Alma Singer, who was named after the heroine of The History of Love, is trying to ease the loneliness of her widowed mother, Charlotte. When a stranger asks Charlotte to translate The History of Love from Spanish for an exorbitant sum, the mysteries deepen. Krauss (Man Walks into a Room) ties these and other plot strands together with surprising twists and turns, chronicling the survival of the human spirit against all odds. Writing with tenderness about eccentric characters, she uses earthy humor to mask pain and to question the universe. Her distinctive voice is both plangent and wry, and her imagination encompasses many worlds." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"[A] brilliant novel....A most unusual and original piece of fiction — and not to be missed." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"[I]ngenious and coherent....Krauss has created a crazy spiderweb of associations and missed connections. Miraculously, she actually manages to make all the delicate filaments not only hold together but support the weight of the enormously ambitious narrative. (Grade: A-)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"While there are times when Ms. Krauss's gamesmanship risks overpowering her larger purpose, her book's resolution pulls everything that precedes it into sharp focus. It has been headed for this moment of truth all along." Janet Maslin, The New York Times

Review:

"Even in moments of startling peculiarity, [Krauss] touches the most common elements of the heart....In the final pages, the fractured stories of The History of Love fall together like a desperate embrace." Washington Post

Review:

"An achievement of extraordinary depth and beauty. What might have been a dirge has been transformed into a triumphant anthem." Newsweek

Review:

"Only 30 years old, Krauss is a writer of astonishing breadth. Her first novel...was well-received. This book, too, is headed for accolades. With luck, Krauss has many decades ahead of sculpting deliciously witty, complicated novels." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Review:

"Krauss' novel abounds with myriad literary documents — journal entries, letters, lists, translations, excerpts from an autobiography — penned by her characters, and done so in cleverly distinctive styles that spark each personality to life." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"Venturing into Paul Auster territory in her graceful inquiry into the interplay between life and literature, Krauss is winsome, funny, and affecting." Booklist

Review:

"[The novel] zips through such webs of mystification that reading it alternates between astonished pleasure and a decoding so laborious as to make you suspect that the message, plain, is less remarkable than the devices used to obscure it." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"[O]ne fine work....As in the best novels, many questions are raised and no easy answers provided. The characters are compelling and true, and the reader will come through the book not just caring about but wanting to heal them." Denver Post

Synopsis:

With consummate, spellbinding skill, Nicole Krauss gradually draws together the stories of Leo Gursky and 14-year-old Alma. This extraordinary book was inspired by the author's four grandparents and by a pantheon of authors whose work is haunted by loss — Bruno 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.

Synopsis:

New York Times Bestseller
Amazon.com #1 Best Book of the Year in Literature and Fiction
Winner of the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing
Winner of the Borders Original Voices Award
Finalist for the Orange Prize
#1 Booksense Pick
Winner of the Edward Lewis Wallant Award
Winner of France's Prix du Meilleur Livre Ėtranger Award

The illuminating national bestseller: "Vertiginously exciting...vibrantly imagined....[Krauss is] a prodigious talent."--Janet Maslin, New York Times

Synopsis:

ONE OF THE MOST LOVED NOVELS OF THE DECADE

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.

New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing
Winner of the Borders Original Voices Award
Finalist for the Orange Prize
#1 Booksense Pick
Winner of the Edward Lewis Wallant Award
Winner of France's Prix du Meilleur Livre Ėtranger Award

Synopsis:

Leo Gursky taps his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he's still alive. But it wasn't always like this: in the Polish village of his youth, he fell in love and wrote a book. . . . Sixty years later and half a world away, fourteen-year-old Alma, who was named after a character in that book, undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family. With virtuosic skill and soaring imaginative power, Nicole Krauss gradually draws these stories together toward a climax of "extraordinary depth and beauty" ().

Synopsis:

ONE OF THE MOST LOVED NOVELS OF THE DECADE 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 taps his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he's still alive. But it wasn't always like this: in the Polish village of his youth, he fell in love and wrote a book... Sixty years later and half a world away, fourteen-year-old Alma, who was named after a character in that book, undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family. With virtuosic skill, and soaring imaginative power, Nicole Krauss gradually draws these stories together toward a climax of "extraordinary depth and beauty." "Vertiginously exciting." --"At least as heartbreaking as it is hilarious." --"Krauss writers like an angel." --"One of the most passionate vindications of the written word in recent fiction. It takes one's breath away." --"It restores your faith in fiction. It restores all sorts of faith" --Ali Smith"It's the sort of book that makes life bearable after all." --Nicole Krauss has been hailed by the as "one of America's most important novelists." She is the author of the international bestseller , a finalist for the National Book Award, and. Her books have been translated into more than thirty-five languages.

About the Author

Nicole Krauss is the author of the novel Man Walks into a Room. Her work has appeared most recently in the New Yorker. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 11 comments:

Elaine T, August 8, 2012 (view all comments by Elaine T)
We are listening to the book on CD. The readers are excellent. Having multiple readers makes it so much easier to keep track of which character is actually front and center. I read the book quite awhile ago but don't remember much other than I liked it! My husband does not normally read fiction and he is enjoying the reading especially the character of Leo.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Tiger, August 6, 2012 (view all comments by Tiger)
Leo Gursky is a quirky, funny, lovable and irresistible character. He has a fear of not being seen on his "last day" so he takes a job as a nude model for a life drawing class; he drops change on the floor; he shops for shoes he doesn't want; he lingers when the delivery guy brings his dinner - anything to make sure he's seen. At night, he taps on his radiator to let his downstairs neighbor know he's still alive. But, before he moved to America, when he was a young man in a Polish village, he fell in love and wrote a book called, "The History of Love". As the end of his life drew closer, he was haunted by whatever happened to his one true love.

Nicole Krauss writes with such captivating imagination, it makes the reader want to savor each line, and stay with Leo to the end. The characters are interesting, not schmaltzy or corny, but quirky and entertaining. You laugh, you cry and you feel comforted - you don't want to let them go. There's Alma, a 14 year old who is named after a character in Leo's book. Alma finds a mysterious letter and with her brother, Bird (who thinks he might be the Messiah, she embarks on an adventure to find her namesake, all while writing a book of her own, "How to Survive in the Wild, Volume Three"

I read lines and then read them out loud. The novel is like comedic prose with mystery, soul and heartbreak. I didn't want it to end and I will never forget Leo Gursky.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
PDX+PIT, August 4, 2012 (view all comments by PDX+PIT)
I read this book initially for a book club, which has since folded. I recommended it to the new book club I joined. It was our favorite book of the year. The History of Love book written by the character Leo Gursky, within this book, is so beautiful in it's sparse, clean prose. That alone makes the book worth reading. The story wrapped around the book is icing on the cake making the experience delicious! I don't purposefully, re-read books too often (so many more to read) but this one is on that short-list! Highly recommended.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 11 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780393060348
Author:
Krauss, Nicole
Publisher:
W. W. Norton & Company
Subject:
General
Subject:
Authors
Subject:
Immigrants
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
Love stories
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st
Publication Date:
May 2, 2005
Binding:
Hardcover
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
252
Dimensions:
9.6 x 6.5 x 1.1 in 1.22 lb

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Miscellaneous Award Winners
Featured Titles » Morning News Tournament » Tournament of Books 2006
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The History of Love: A Novel Used Hardcover
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$6.50 In Stock
Product details 252 pages W. W. Norton & Company - English 9780393060348 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

In this brilliant work on love and loss, two stories, past and present, merge. With compassion and humor, Nicole Krauss writes a beautiful and incredibly imaginative novel, delivering readers through twists and turns to arrive at a wholly satisfying conclusion. Few more endearing characters can be found in literature today.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The last words of this haunting novel resonate like a pealing bell. 'He fell in love. It was his life.' This is the unofficial obituary of octogenarian Leo Gursky, a character whose mordant wit, gallows humor and searching heart create an unforgettable portrait. Born in Poland and a WWII refugee in New York, Leo has become invisible to the world. When he leaves his tiny apartment, he deliberately draws attention to himself to be sure he exists. What's really missing in his life is the woman he has always loved, the son who doesn't know that Leo is his father, and his lost novel, called The History of Love, which, unbeknownst to Leo, was published years ago in Chile under a different man's name. Another family in New York has also been truncated by loss. Teenager Alma Singer, who was named after the heroine of The History of Love, is trying to ease the loneliness of her widowed mother, Charlotte. When a stranger asks Charlotte to translate The History of Love from Spanish for an exorbitant sum, the mysteries deepen. Krauss (Man Walks into a Room) ties these and other plot strands together with surprising twists and turns, chronicling the survival of the human spirit against all odds. Writing with tenderness about eccentric characters, she uses earthy humor to mask pain and to question the universe. Her distinctive voice is both plangent and wry, and her imagination encompasses many worlds." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[A] brilliant novel....A most unusual and original piece of fiction — and not to be missed."
"Review" by , "[I]ngenious and coherent....Krauss has created a crazy spiderweb of associations and missed connections. Miraculously, she actually manages to make all the delicate filaments not only hold together but support the weight of the enormously ambitious narrative. (Grade: A-)"
"Review" by , "While there are times when Ms. Krauss's gamesmanship risks overpowering her larger purpose, her book's resolution pulls everything that precedes it into sharp focus. It has been headed for this moment of truth all along."
"Review" by , "Even in moments of startling peculiarity, [Krauss] touches the most common elements of the heart....In the final pages, the fractured stories of The History of Love fall together like a desperate embrace."
"Review" by , "An achievement of extraordinary depth and beauty. What might have been a dirge has been transformed into a triumphant anthem."
"Review" by , "Only 30 years old, Krauss is a writer of astonishing breadth. Her first novel...was well-received. This book, too, is headed for accolades. With luck, Krauss has many decades ahead of sculpting deliciously witty, complicated novels."
"Review" by , "Krauss' novel abounds with myriad literary documents — journal entries, letters, lists, translations, excerpts from an autobiography — penned by her characters, and done so in cleverly distinctive styles that spark each personality to life."
"Review" by , "Venturing into Paul Auster territory in her graceful inquiry into the interplay between life and literature, Krauss is winsome, funny, and affecting."
"Review" by , "[The novel] zips through such webs of mystification that reading it alternates between astonished pleasure and a decoding so laborious as to make you suspect that the message, plain, is less remarkable than the devices used to obscure it."
"Review" by , "[O]ne fine work....As in the best novels, many questions are raised and no easy answers provided. The characters are compelling and true, and the reader will come through the book not just caring about but wanting to heal them."
"Synopsis" by , With consummate, spellbinding skill, Nicole Krauss gradually draws together the stories of Leo Gursky and 14-year-old Alma. This extraordinary book was inspired by the author's four grandparents and by a pantheon of authors whose work is haunted by loss — Bruno 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.
"Synopsis" by , New York Times Bestseller
Amazon.com #1 Best Book of the Year in Literature and Fiction
Winner of the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing
Winner of the Borders Original Voices Award
Finalist for the Orange Prize
#1 Booksense Pick
Winner of the Edward Lewis Wallant Award
Winner of France's Prix du Meilleur Livre Ėtranger Award

The illuminating national bestseller: "Vertiginously exciting...vibrantly imagined....[Krauss is] a prodigious talent."--Janet Maslin, New York Times
"Synopsis" by , ONE OF THE MOST LOVED NOVELS OF THE DECADE

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.

New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing
Winner of the Borders Original Voices Award
Finalist for the Orange Prize
#1 Booksense Pick
Winner of the Edward Lewis Wallant Award
Winner of France's Prix du Meilleur Livre Ėtranger Award

"Synopsis" by , Leo Gursky taps his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he's still alive. But it wasn't always like this: in the Polish village of his youth, he fell in love and wrote a book. . . . Sixty years later and half a world away, fourteen-year-old Alma, who was named after a character in that book, undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family. With virtuosic skill and soaring imaginative power, Nicole Krauss gradually draws these stories together toward a climax of "extraordinary depth and beauty" ().
"Synopsis" by , ONE OF THE MOST LOVED NOVELS OF THE DECADE 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 taps his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he's still alive. But it wasn't always like this: in the Polish village of his youth, he fell in love and wrote a book... Sixty years later and half a world away, fourteen-year-old Alma, who was named after a character in that book, undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family. With virtuosic skill, and soaring imaginative power, Nicole Krauss gradually draws these stories together toward a climax of "extraordinary depth and beauty." "Vertiginously exciting." --"At least as heartbreaking as it is hilarious." --"Krauss writers like an angel." --"One of the most passionate vindications of the written word in recent fiction. It takes one's breath away." --"It restores your faith in fiction. It restores all sorts of faith" --Ali Smith"It's the sort of book that makes life bearable after all." --Nicole Krauss has been hailed by the as "one of America's most important novelists." She is the author of the international bestseller , a finalist for the National Book Award, and. Her books have been translated into more than thirty-five languages.
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