They exist as a rumour or a fading memory. They vanished from history leaving scarcely a trace, lost to fire, censorship, theft, war or deliberate destruction, yet those who seek them are convinced they will find them. This is the story of one man’s quest for eight mysterious lost books.
Taking us from Florence to Regency London, the Russian Steppe to British Columbia, Giorgio van Straten unearths stories of infamy and tragedy, glimmers of hope and bitter twists of fate. There are, among others, the rediscovered masterpiece that he read but failed to save from destruction; the Hemingway novel that vanished in a suitcase at the Gare du Lyon; the memoirs of Lord Byron, burnt to avoid a scandal; the Magnum Opus of Bruno Schulz, disappeared along with its author in wartime Poland; the mythical Sylvia Plath novel that may one day become reality.
As gripping as a detective novel, as moving as an elegy, this is the tale of a love affair with the impossible, of the things that slip away from us but which, sometimes, live again in the stories we tell.
Giorgio van Straten is director of the Italian Cultural Institute of New York and one of the editors of the literature review Nuovi Argomenti. He is the author of several novels, including the prize-winning A Living Memory, along with two collections of short stories. He has translated the works of authors such as Kipling, London and Stevenson and has edited several works of non-fiction.
André Aciman is the New York Times bestselling author of Call Me By Your Name, Out of Egypt, Eight White Nights, False Papers, Alibis, and Harvard Square, and most recently Enigma Variations, now out in paperback. He's the editor of The Proust Project and teaches comparative literature at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He lives with his wife in Manhattan.