Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The best novel I've read in years

I had to fly to the west coast back in January, and as I left for the airport I faced a crucial decision. What book should I take to read on the flight?

I had just started an advance copy of a novel that seemed highly promising, but it was big (597 pages) and heavy to carry. (Two copies of this would weigh almost as much as an i-Pad, but I digress...). I finally decided to go with it, though, and opened the book back up once I settled into my seat on the plane.

More than six hours later, I found myself annoyed that my flights that day had run on time. I hadn't had such a long block of time just to read since I don't remember when, but I still wasn't quite finished with the incredible novel I'd been reading. The book had everything you look for in fiction-great stories, deep, finely drawn characters, romance and love, families, history, struggle, suspense, exotic settings. And writing that draws you into the depths of the world it is creating without ever getting in the way.

The novel, just published, is called The Invisible Bridge. Its author is a young Brooklyn-based writer named Julie Orringer. The main protagonist of The Invisible Bridge is a Hungarian-Jewish student named Andras Levi, who, as the book opens in 1937, travels from Budapest to Paris to study architecture. I found The Invisible Bridge to be completely engrossing and captivating; transforming in the way that only the very best fiction can be.

And, most unusually, I fully agree with the blurbs the publisher has reprinted on the back of the book:

"The sheer joy of storytelling fills each moment of Orringer's novel...It transports us completely into its world-that of young Andras, his friends, family, and loves-and a landscape of war and redemption. Thrilling, tender, and terrifying; a glorious reminder of how books can change lives. It is the novel of the year."
Andrew Sean Greer, author of The Story of a Marriage

"To bring an entire lost world-its sights, its smells, its heartaches, raptures, and terrors-to vivid life between the covers of a novel is an accomplishment; to invest that world, and everyone who inhabits it, with a soul, as Julie Orringer does in The Invisible Bridge, takes something more like genius."
Michael Chabon, author of Manhood for Amateurs
--Tom Campbell

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