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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »

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The History of Love: A Novel

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The History of Love: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780393328622
ISBN10: 0393328627
Condition: 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:

"[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:

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

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:

"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:

"[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:

At least as heartbreaking as it is hilarious.Brilliant. An achievement of extraordinary depth and beauty.The novel’s achievement is precisely, and not negligibly, this: to have made a new fiction—alternately delightful and hilarious and deeply affecting.Moving and virtuosic.Luminous prose. . . . Krauss is a masterful storyteller . . . a writer of astonishing breadth.Ingenious.A significant novel, genuinely one of the year’s best. Emotionally wrenching yet intellectually rigorous, idea-driven but with indelible characters and true suspense.

Synopsis:

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

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:

A profoundly moving, deliciously suspenseful novel about an American grandfather and a newly orphaned boy racing across the Norwegian wilderness, fleeing demons both real and imagined.

Synopsis:

A lost book reappears, drawing together the lives of the irrepressible Leo Gursky who has arrived at the end of his life, a locksmith searching for the son who's never known him, and young Alma Singer, desperate to find her namesake and a cure for her mother's loneliness. Gradually their stories merge into a single triumph of the imagination over loss.

Synopsis:

Crime Writers Association John Creasey Dagger Award winner

An ECONOMIST TOP FICTION TITLE OF THE YEAR

A FINANCIAL TIMES BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

A GUARDIAN BEST CRIME AND THRILLER OF THE YEAR

A KIRKUS REVIEWS BEST CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR

A luminous novel, a police thriller, and the funniest book about war crimes and dementia you are likely to read

Sheldon Horowitz—widowed, impatient, impertinent—has grudgingly agreed to leave New York and move in with his granddaughter, Rhea, and her new husband, Lars, in Norway: a country of blue and ice with one thousand Jews, not one of them a former Marine sniper in the Korean War turned watch repairman, who failed his only son by sending him to Vietnam to die. Not until now, anyway.

Home alone one morning, Sheldon witnesses a dispute between the woman who lives upstairs and an aggressive stranger. When events turn dire, Sheldon seizes and shields the neighbors young son from the violence, and they flee the scene. But old age and circumstances are altering Sheldons experience of time and memory. He is haunted by dreams of his son Sauls life and by guilt over his death. As Sheldon and the boy look for a haven in an alien world, reality and fantasy, past and present, weave together, forcing them ever forward to a wrenching moment of truth.

Norwegian by Night introduces an ensemble of unforgettable characters—Sheldon and the boy, Rhea and Lars, a Balkan war criminal named Enver, and Sigrid and Petter, the brilliantly dry-witted investigating officers—as they chase one another, and their own demons, through the wilderness at the end of the world.

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.

Table of Contents

Part I

The 59th Parallel 1

Part II

River Rats 105

Part III

New River 193

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 37 comments:

NC, January 6, 2013 (view all comments by NC)
Totally engaging.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Tira Meesu, January 19, 2012 (view all comments by Tira Meesu)
Nicole Krauss offers readers a journey into the lives of people we want to know. Her writing, her inhabiting of each character, and the interconnected plot and ideas challenge us to both enjoy the story and question our assumptions. This is a beautiful story of an old man, a young girl, a family of choice and of history. The tears on the pages were shed in the full range of feeling elicited by this book.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
bellreader, January 19, 2012 (view all comments by bellreader)
The book's title is actually the title of the book featured in this convuluted, yet lovingly written book. It is about a Jewish refugee from Poland who wrote the book years ago for the love of his life after she left for the States just as the war effort was moving in to Poland. She and others thought he was long gone, but indeed he survived as did the book. Three generations fall in love with the book and one way or another manage to have it published. Untimely deaths sadden the story, but love threads its way through to the end. Not an easy read, but for readers it is a good choice.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 37 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780393328622
Author:
Krauss, Nicole
Publisher:
W. W. Norton & Company
Author:
Miller, Derek
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Authors
Subject:
Immigrants
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
Love stories
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
Reprint ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
April 24, 2006
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1.08 lb

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Young Adult » General

The History of Love: A Novel Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.50 In Stock
Product details 272 pages W. W. Norton & Company - English 9780393328622 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 , "[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 , "Venturing into Paul Auster territory in her graceful inquiry into the interplay between life and literature, Krauss is winsome, funny, and affecting."
"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 , "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 , "[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 , At least as heartbreaking as it is hilarious.Brilliant. An achievement of extraordinary depth and beauty.The novel’s achievement is precisely, and not negligibly, this: to have made a new fiction—alternately delightful and hilarious and deeply affecting.Moving and virtuosic.Luminous prose. . . . Krauss is a masterful storyteller . . . a writer of astonishing breadth.Ingenious.A significant novel, genuinely one of the year’s best. Emotionally wrenching yet intellectually rigorous, idea-driven but with indelible characters and true suspense.
"Synopsis" by , The illuminating national bestseller: "Vertiginously exciting...vibrantly imagined....[Krauss is] a prodigious talent."--Janet Maslin, New York Times
"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 , A profoundly moving, deliciously suspenseful novel about an American grandfather and a newly orphaned boy racing across the Norwegian wilderness, fleeing demons both real and imagined.
"Synopsis" by , A lost book reappears, drawing together the lives of the irrepressible Leo Gursky who has arrived at the end of his life, a locksmith searching for the son who's never known him, and young Alma Singer, desperate to find her namesake and a cure for her mother's loneliness. Gradually their stories merge into a single triumph of the imagination over loss.
"Synopsis" by ,
Crime Writers Association John Creasey Dagger Award winner

An ECONOMIST TOP FICTION TITLE OF THE YEAR

A FINANCIAL TIMES BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

A GUARDIAN BEST CRIME AND THRILLER OF THE YEAR

A KIRKUS REVIEWS BEST CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR

A luminous novel, a police thriller, and the funniest book about war crimes and dementia you are likely to read

Sheldon Horowitz—widowed, impatient, impertinent—has grudgingly agreed to leave New York and move in with his granddaughter, Rhea, and her new husband, Lars, in Norway: a country of blue and ice with one thousand Jews, not one of them a former Marine sniper in the Korean War turned watch repairman, who failed his only son by sending him to Vietnam to die. Not until now, anyway.

Home alone one morning, Sheldon witnesses a dispute between the woman who lives upstairs and an aggressive stranger. When events turn dire, Sheldon seizes and shields the neighbors young son from the violence, and they flee the scene. But old age and circumstances are altering Sheldons experience of time and memory. He is haunted by dreams of his son Sauls life and by guilt over his death. As Sheldon and the boy look for a haven in an alien world, reality and fantasy, past and present, weave together, forcing them ever forward to a wrenching moment of truth.

Norwegian by Night introduces an ensemble of unforgettable characters—Sheldon and the boy, Rhea and Lars, a Balkan war criminal named Enver, and Sigrid and Petter, the brilliantly dry-witted investigating officers—as they chase one another, and their own demons, through the wilderness at the end of the world.

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