Based on an informal survey of local booksellers, I predict that Nicole Krauss' third novel, Great House, is a shoo-in to win the National Book Award. Her Friday reading at the Brookline Booksmith will be the last stop on her U.S. tour.
I finished Great House this weekend while on queasy bus rides to and from New York City. I'll admit, its relentlessly heavy focus on love, death, and alienation didn't make the best bus fare. Few books I've read in recent years have made me feel so terribly lonely.
Great House is about writers and writing, the Jewish diaspora, Pinochet's human rights atrocities, family, and furniture. The novel is brilliant, and its imagery is quite literally haunting -- I've been dreaming about dark woods and black water for days. It's a work befitting some old depressive, but Nicole Krauss is an elegant young beauty (see above) who lives a charmed life with her children and their father, the bestselling author Jonathan Safran Foer. Both were chosen this year as New Yorker twenties under forty.
On Monday morning, I called Krauss at home in Brooklyn. She schooled me on how not to confuse fact with fiction.