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Lightningby Jean Echenoz
Synopses & Reviews
Drawn from the life of Nikola Tesla, one of the greatest inventors of his time,
Lightning is a captivating tale of one mans curious fascination with the marvels of science.
Hailed by the Washington Post as the most distinctive voice of his generation,” Echenoz traces the notable career of Gregor, a precocious young engineer from Eastern Europe, who travels across the Atlantic at the age of twenty-eight to work alongside Thomas Edison, with whom he later holds a long-lasting rivalry. After his discovery of alternating current, Gregor quickly begins to astound the world with his other brilliant inventions, including everything from radio, radar, and wireless communication to cellular technology, remote control, and the electron microscope.
Echenoz gradually reveals the eccentric inner world of a solitary man who holds
a rare gift for imagining devices well before they come into existence. Gregor is a recluse—an odd and enigmatic intellect who avoids women and instead prefers spending hours a day courting pigeons in Central Park.
Winner of the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, Echenoz once again demonstrates
his astonishing abilities as a prose stylist as he vividly captures the life of an isolated genius. A beautifully crafted portrait of a man who prefers the company of lightning in the Colorado desert to that of other human beings, Lightning is a dazzling new work from one of the worlds leading contemporary authors.
"The affecting story of a difficult and misunderstood European visionary on American shores comprises this lyrical, slender novel by Prix Goncourt — winner Echenoz (Running). Born during a lightning storm 'somewhere in southeastern Europe' in the mid-19th century, Gregor has many wonderfully inventive ideas from an early age — a rapid mail tube running under the Atlantic Ocean, harnessing the power of Niagara Falls for energy — and soon the bright young engineer lands in America, where he ends up working with Thomas Edison, who is less than convinced by Gregor's ideas about alternating current. George Westinghouse, however, is intrigued, and as AC becomes the electrical standard, everybody gets rich, even Gregor, for a while. However, with each succeeding electrical marvel, described by an admiring omniscient narrator who admits to being 'mystified' by science, Gregor is increasingly dismissed as a crackpot, and other less than scrupulous inventors make off with his world-altering inventions. Echenoz constructs a sympathetic, stylized portrait of an isolated genius stricken by obsessive compulsiveness, a friend only to pigeons at the end. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Lightningis a captivating fictionalized biography of Nikola Tesla, one of the greatest inventors of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, written by "the master magician of the contemporary French novel" (The Washington Post).
The book traces the notable career of Gregor, a precocious young engineer from Eastern Europe, who travels across the Atlantic at the age of twenty-eight to work alongside Thomas Edison and quickly begins to astound the world with his brilliant inventions.
As Echenoz reveals in a style that is impeccable, full of finesse and promise” (Le Monde), this profoundly solitary man holds a rare gift for imagining devices well before they come into existence, but which soon become essential for future generations. Although he works alongside the most accomplished figures of the era, Gregor becomes swept up in his world of lightning and loses sight of who is profiting from his work.
About the Author
Jean Echenoz won Frances prestigious Prix Goncourt for Im Gone (The New Press). He is the author of five previous novels in English translation and the winner of numerous literary prizes, among them the Prix Medicis and the European Literature Jeopardy Prize. He lives in Paris.
Linda Coverdales most recent translation for The New Press was Jean Echenozs Running. She was the recipient of the French American Foundations 2008 Translation Prize for her translation of Echenozs Ravel. She lives in Brooklyn.
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