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Paul Auster


Philosophy professor Sy Baumgartner lost his wife Anna, a poet and translator, in a drowning accident ten years earlier. Now in his early 70s Sy has a fall at home and, while recovering, recalls the 40 years he and Anna shared. Still cherishing their years together, he hasn’t yet figured out a future for himself.

Baumgartner’s record of his own day-to-day life is interspersed with extracts from Anna’s poems and newly discovered stories about the early days of their relationship and of her first love. Sy is deeply stirred to read her girlhood memories for the first time. He also reminisces about his childhood years in Jewish Newark (Auster’s own hometown) and about his parents, puzzling over his father who ran a dress shop and let his wife and sister do the work while he read books. In another narrative, ‘The Wolves of Stanislav’, we hear about Baumgartner’s journey to Ukraine in 2017 in a sort of pilgrimage to the birthplace of his grandfather, a man none of the family ever knew. After a new romance fails and a young female scholar expresses an interest in writing a thesis on Anna’s poems, Sy is finally prompted to make plans for the future. Baumgartner’s musings in Auster’s writing style are a joy to read.


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