Nominated by:

Bibliothèques Municipales de la Ville de Genève, Switzerland

Publisher of nominated edition:

The New Press, USA

Lightning

Jean Echenoz    

Translated from the original French by Linda Coverdale

2013 Longlist

Drawn from the life of Nikola Tesla, one of the greatest inventors of his time, Lightning is a captivating tale of one man’s curious fascination with the marvels of science.

Hailed by the Washington Post as “the most distinctive voice of his generation,” Echenoz traces the notable career of Gregor, a precocious young engineer from Eastern Europe, who travels across the Atlantic at the age of twenty-eight to work alongside Thomas Edison, with whom he later holds a long-lasting rivalry. After his discovery of alternating current, Gregor quickly begins to astound the world with his other brilliant inventions, including everything from radio, radar, and wireless communication to cellular technology, remote control, and the electron microscope.

Echenoz gradually reveals the eccentric inner world of a solitary man who holds a rare gift for imagining devices well before they come into existence. Gregor is a recluse—an odd and enigmatic intellect who avoids women and instead prefers spending hours a day courting pigeons in Central Park. Echenoz  demonstrates his astonishing abilities as a prose stylist as he vividly captures the life of an isolated genius. A beautifully crafted portrait of a man who prefers the company of lightning in the Colorado desert to that of other human beings, Lightning is a dazzling new work from one of the world’s leading contemporary authors.

(From Publisher)

About the Author

Jean Echenoz won France’s prestigious Prix Goncourt for I’m Gone (The New Press). He is the author of five previous novels in English translation and the winner of numerous literary prizes, among them the Prix Médicis and the European Literature Jeopardy Prize. He lives in Paris.

Librarian’s Comments

Echenoz has written about the life of a genius, who was interested more in research than in profit, who was unpleasant, arrogant, and lived a lonely life. Lightning is written with intelligence and humour.

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