Synopses & Reviews
In The Art Students War
, his sixth novel, Brad Leithauser has brought off a double feat of imagination: a keen and affectionate rendering of an artist as a young woman and a loving historical portrait of a now-vanished Detroit in its heyday.
The story opens on a sunny spring day as a pretty woman, in a crowded wartime city, climbs aboard a streetcar. She is heading home, where another wara domestic waris about to erupt.
The year is 1943. Our heroine, Bianca Paradiso, is eighteen and an art student. She goes by Bea with friends and family, but she is Bianca in that world of private ambition where she dreams of creating canvases deserving of space on a museums walls. She is determined to observe everything, and there is much to see in a thriving, sleepless city where automobile production has been halted in favor of fighter planes and tanks, and where wounded soldiers have begun to appear with disturbing frequency.
The glorious pursuit of art and the harrowing pursuit of military victory eventually merge when Bea is asked to draw portraits of wounded young soldiers in a local hospital. Suddenly, bewilderingly, she must deal with lives maimed at their outset, and with headlong romantic yearnings that demand more of her than she feels prepared to give. And she must do so at a time when dangerous revelationsemotional detonationsare occurring in her own family.
Rich, humorous, and grippingly written, The Art Students War is Leithausers finest novel to datea view both global and intimate in its portrayal of one family caught up in the personal and national drama of the Second World War.
From the Hardcover edition.
The Art Student's War
is Brad Leithauser's finest novel to date, deeply moving in its portrayal of a young aspiring artist and her immigrant family during Detroit’s wartime heyday.
The year is 1943. Bianca Paradiso is a pretty and ambitious eighteen-year-old studying to be an artist while her bustling, thriving hometown turns from mass-producing automobiles to rolling out fighter planes and tanks. For Bianca, national and personal conflicts begin to merge when she is asked to draw portraits of the wounded young soldiers who are filling local hospitals. Suddenly she must confront lives maimed at their outset as well as her own romantic yearnings, and she must do so at a time when another war—a war within her own family—is erupting.
In his sixth novel, Leithauser has realized a double feat of imagination: a loving historical portrait of a now-vanished Detroit in its heyday, and a keen and affectionate rendering of young artist Bianca Paradiso.
About the Author
Brad Leithauser was born in Detroit and graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He is the author of five previous novels, a novel in verse, five volumes of poetry, two collections of light verse, and a book of essays. Among his many awards and honors are a MacArthur Fellowship and, in 2005, the induction by the president of Iceland into the Order of the Falcon for his writings about Nordic literature. He is a professor in the writing seminars at Johns Hopkins University. He and his wife, Mary Jo Salter, divide their time between Baltimore, Maryland, and Amherst, Massachusetts.