Great House: A Novel

Great House: A Novel - Nicole Krauss Readers Wanted: Must be comfortable travelling between Oxford, London, New York, Jerusalem, Nuremberg and Santiago. Must be well-versed in a variety of artistic forms or naturally curious about works as diverse as Beethoven’s String Quartet in a minor and R.B. Kitaj’s paintings. Must be available for extended hours, willing to accept assignments without explanations, and possess superior attention-to-detail and patience.

This is what I imagine a call for readers for Nicole Krauss’ third novel might look like. It’s not necessarily the kind of book that the majority of readers will be drawn to, but if the advertisement was run alongside one from the publisher, which showcased the critical acclaim that the author’s work has received, the number of applicants might well increase.

The characters in Great House, like the Jews discussed in the novel’s final pages, are bent “around the shape of what they lost, and they let everything mirror its absent form”.

They can “only recall the tiniest fragment: a pattern on the wall, a knot in the wood of a door, a memory of how light fell across the floor”.

If you were to bring these fragments together, there is the possibility of a “perfect assemblage”, but the individual characters exist to preserve their fragments, “in a state of perpetual regret and longing”.

Nicole Krauss is comfortable rooting her stories in fragments. Or, at the very least, she is comfortable with feeling uncomfortable while composing a novel in this way. It's painstakingly crafted, but if you're not comfortable with the idea of reading in fragments, with a perpetual state of longing, this might not be the book for you.

More details and quotes and thoughts on this one here.