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Ghostby Alan Lightman
Synopses & Reviews
Alan Lightman's first novel, Einstein's Dreams, became an international best seller and was hailed by Salman Rushdie as at once intellectually provocative and touching and comic and so very beautifully written. His novel The Diagnosis, called highly original and imaginative by the New York Times, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Now comes a stunning and disturbing new novel about a man's encounter with the unfathomable.
David is a person of modest ambitions who works in a bank, lives in a rooming house, enjoys books and quiet walks by the lake. Three months after unexpectedly being fired from his job, he takes a temporary position at a mortuary. And there, sitting alone in the slumber room one afternoon at dusk, he sees something that he cannot comprehend, something that no science can explain, something that will force him to question everything he believes in, including himself. After his metaphysical experience, all his relationships change — with his estranged wife, his girlfriend, his mother — and he grudgingly finds himself at the center of a bitter public controversy over the existence of the supernatural. As David struggles to understand what has happened to him, we embark on a provocative exploration of the delicate divide between the physical world and the spiritual world, between skepticism and faith, between the natural and the supernatural, and between science and religion.
Combining a dramatic story with compelling characters and provocative ideas, Ghost investigates timeless questions that continue to challenge contemporary society.
"'In this smartly paced novel from the author of Einstein's Dreams, a divorced, former banker witnesses a supernatural event, inspiring him to continue the 'search for something' that has hovered in the back of his mind throughout his life. A promising, handsome student in his younger years, middle-aged David struggles to restore order to his life and relationships after being sacked from his middling bank job. The search leads him to the local funeral home, where he takes a job as an apprentice among a cast less hip than the Six Feet Under crew, but compelling in a quieter way — the director, Martin, is a fatherly figure whose allegiance to his inherited profession rules an existence otherwise restricted by severe agoraphobia. After David has a vision he 'can't describe in words' in the home's 'slumber room,' he gets agitated to the point where he is compelled to confess to a loose-lipped friend. Soon, David's vision becomes a local media event, with unwanted consequences. Familiar questions about the existence of God, life after death and the fluidity of time arise, and the cast doesn't get the detail it deserves. But the momentum that builds alongside David's ensuing psychological turmoil is enough to carry the story.' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A weighty issue, but a wisp of a novel." Kirkus Reviews
"Ghost is subtly and delicately narrated, a prolonged and unwavering look at a serious, controversial subject." Joyce Carol Oates, author of The Gravedigger's Daughter
"A fascinating novel, splendidly framed and elegantly told. I'm moved by the characters and by the narrator's insights into the nature of reality. I read Ghost with relish." Ha Jin, author of War Trash
"Both characterization and narrative are compelling, and I loved all the background of the funeral parlor. I particularly appreciated the sympathetic picture of the kind of people who are often mocked or patronized in novels — I thought there was a certain kinship with the work of Richard Ford." Michael Frayn, author of Copenhagen
"This is an important novel, and it deserves a lot of attention. I absorbed it as an allegory of the birth of superstition and a trip into the scary zone between the palpable and supernatural taken even by the educated twenty-first-century mind." Edward O. Wilson, author of Consilience
"Satirical and compassionate, Lightman's brilliantly orchestrated and gripping tale dramatizes our marshaling of fear, fantasy, and faith as we confront the unknown and the inevitable." Booklist
"This is fine and deeply thoughtful fiction." Los Angeles Times
From the acclaimed author of the national bestseller Einstein's Dreams and The Diagnosis comes this stunning and disturbing new novel about one mans encounter with the unfathomable.
About the Author
Alan Lightman is the author of four previous novels, two collections of essays, and several books on science. His work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Granta, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, and Nature, among many other publications. A theoretical physicist as well as a novelist, he has served on the faculties of Harvard and MIT, and was the first person to receive a dual faculty appointment at MIT in science and in the humanities. He lives in the Boston area.
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