The History of Love

Nicole Krauss

I kept hearing people talk about this book saying that Krauss wrote the same book as Jonathan Safran Foer (her husband), but she wrote it better. It’s somewhat true, being a multilinear story steeped in the Holocaust and its lost histories and secrets, driven by clever, young people who go through great lengths to reveal them. But in Krauss’s book, there is also the quirky, old man Leopold Gursky who escaped Nazi-occupied Poland for a lonely life in New York City, where he fears he is disappearing. He is certainly the heart of this book.

I try to make a point of being seen. Sometimes when I’m out, I’ll buy a juice even though I’m not thirsty. If the store is crowded I’ll even go so far as dropping my change all over the floor, the nickels and dimes skidding in every direction … All I want is not to die on a day when I went unseen.

There are so many threads spinning the story together that at first it feels disconcerting starting each one and getting used to all the players involved, especially since the trick of it is not knowing how they are all connected initially. In the end, it’s impressive how Krauss manages to show key aspects of the story without ever describing them in words.

The film version will be directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Y tu mamá también).