“The History of Love,” the second novel of emerging young author Nicole Krauss, born in 1974 and a graduate of Stanford and Oxford universities, has been chosen for the third annual campus wide OneBook shared reading experience. The book is a Chinese-puzzle story of several different and seemingly unrelated people, told by four different narrators. At its center is Leo Gursky, an eccentric, 80-year-old Jew from Poland. Now living in New York, he spends his days dreaming of Alma Mereminski, the love of his youth who, sixty years ago, inspired him to write a book.
Across town in Brooklyn, 14-year-old Alma Singer is trying to find a cure for her mother’s loneliness. Thinking she might understand better by reading “The History of Love,” a cherished book her father gave her mother before his death, Alma decides to track down its author. As her search widens, she sets in motion a series of events which have far-reaching effects on the lives of people she’s never met.
The novel also tells the stories of several other characters: Alma’s 11-year-old brother, Bird; Leo’s childhood friend, Bruno; his son Isaac, a famous writer and Zvi Litvinoff, a Jew who (like Leo) escaped the Nazis in Poland. In untangling the various strands of this complicated tapestry, with its multiple narrators and story lines, it becomes clear that while this novel is about many things—writing, identity, survival, language, loneliness and love—it is essentially about connections: those things which connect us to our past, to community, to ethnicity and religion, to family and, mysteriously, to one another— even those we may not know. As the lives of these characters gradually converge in surprising and unpredictable ways, “The History of Love” argues for an inter-connected world.
An award-winning book translated into more than 25 languages, “The History of Love” was voted Amazon.com’s Number One Novel of the Year and shortlisted for the prestigious Orange Prize. Critics have called it “unique,” “breathtaking” and “astounding.”
“This book promises to take its place with “The Kite Runner” and “Maus,” our previous OneBook selections, as a book with much to teach us about a world which, though often bewildering, offers connections–and love–when we least expect it,” said English Professor Laurie Porter, who chairs the OneBook committee with Dawn Remmers, the director of University Advising, Student Success & Testing Services.
“We have chosen connections as the focus of Conversations ’08-’09, because the novel ultimately argues for an inter-connected world, as the lives of very different people converge in unexpected ways,” Porter said, explaining that throughout the academic year, curricular and co-curricular activities and events will examine different kinds of connections and the issues associated with those linkages.
The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.