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Electric City

List Price: $15.95

October 13, 2015 | Paperback | 5.6 x 8.7, 304 pages | ISBN 9781619025820
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Upstate New York, at the confluence of the great Hudson River and its mighty tributary the Mohawk –from this stunning landscape came the creation of a new world of science. In 1887, Thomas Edison moved his Edison Machine Works here and in 1892, it became the headquarters of a major manufacturing company, giving the town its nickname: Electric City.

The peak of Autumn, 1919: The pull of scientific discovery brings Charles Proteus Steimetz, a brilliant mathematician and recent arrival from Ellis Island, to town. His ability to capture lightning in a bottle earns him the title “Wizard of Electric City.” Barely four feet tall with a deeply curving spine, Steinmetz’s physical deformity belies his great intellect. Allied with his Mohawk friend Joseph Longboat and his adopted eleven-year-old granddaughter Midget, the advancements he makes in Electric City will, quite simply, change the world.

The peak of Autumn, 1965: Sophie Levine, the daughter of a company man, one of the many scientists working at The Company, whose electric logo can be seen from everywhere in town. Her family escaped Europe just before World War II, leaving behind a wake of annihilation and persecution. Ensconced in Electric City, Sophie is coming of age just as the town is gasping its last breaths. The town, and America as a whole, is on the cusp of great instability: blackouts, social unrest over Vietnam, and soon the advent of the seventies. Into her orbit drifts Henry Van Curler, the favored son of one of Electric City’s founding Dutch families, as well as Martin Longboat, grandson of Joseph Longboat. This new generation of Electric City will face both the history of their town and their own uncertain future, struggling to bridge the gap between the old world and the new.

Electric City is a vital, pulsing, epic novel of America, of its great scientific ingenuity and its emotional ambition; one that frames the birth and evolution of its towns against the struggles of its indigenous tribes, the immigrant experience, a country divided, and the technological advancements that ushered in the modern world.

About Elizabeth Rosner

ELIZABETH ROSNER is the author of three novels and a poetry collection. The Speed of Light was translated into nine languages and won several awards in the US and in Europe, including being shortlisted for the prestigious Prix Femina. Blue Nude was named among the best books of 2006 by the San Francisco Chronicle. Electric City was named among the best books of 2014 by NPR. Rosner's essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Elle, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. She lives in Berkeley, California.

Praise
Praise for Electric City

An NPR Pick for Best Book of 2014

"With deft descriptions, Rosner sketches the bustling city, on land long cherished by aboriginal culture, which grew and flourished as whites invaded and industrialized...offers a gentle meditation on love and loss."--Kirkus

"There is also a great affection in this novel, for a place at once as old as lightning and as young as the latest invention. All the characters in this book--and, I suppose, this reviewer--are just molecules passing through the Electric City." -- The Historical Novel Society

"Rosner beautifully bridges past and present in the dynamism of her historical depictions, capturing the dangers and excitement of invention, the complex play between generations of America's immigrant populations and its native peoples, the wonder of young love, and the insatiable spark of curiosity that is a calling card of scientific inquiry, and a hallmark of the human heart." --Elle

"A poetic and multilayered love story, Electric City shows how we light our way, struggling to bridge the gap between the old world and the new." --Off The Shelf

"This beautiful book joins the compression, vivid intensity, and imaginative connectivity of poetry to the deep character work of the novel. Rosner handles with effortless assurance both the small, intimate stories and the great impersonal worlds of science, nature, and history that combine to make us who we are." -- Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Winner of the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award

"It's a wondrous thing to watch the deepening and unfurling of a writer's talent over one book and another and another. Electric City is Elizabeth Rosner at her best yet, a book that leaves the reader hungering for her next." --Chicago Tribune

"A heady mix of world-changing history (Thomas Edison and Charles Steinmetz) coupled against a bewitching love triangle ignites Rosner's gorgeously written exploration of the way inventions transform cities, hearts, and lives, sometimes with a terrible cost, and the way light nudges inroads in the darkness. Electrifyingly original." --Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You

"Reminiscent of In the Skin of a Lion and set in a 1960s New York manufacturing town once founded by Thomas Edison, Electric City is a love story made incandescent by Rosner's prose. The triangle she creates between Sophie Levine and her two admirers is as tangled, tragic, and beautiful as the history of their fundamentally American city." --Maria Hummel, author of Motherland

"Rich and poignant...The provenance of each character is thematically and dramatically significant...and the novel beautifully explores the ways we attach ourselves to a place, the ways we might escape it, and how these things, like the Hudson River, often flow both ways." --San Francisco Chronicle

"Electric City is the gripping narrative of an ever-changing America seen through the prism of one town caught between the past and the future, and the tangled tragic love triangle set within it. Compelling, beautiful, important, and timeless, Electric City is as much a thoughtful look at our changing past as it is a metaphor for the present. Elizabeth Rosner is a bright literary light." --Jennifer Gilmore, author of The Mothers

"Rosner's richly imagined historical novel richly conveys an abiding sense of time and place. A deeply evocative paean to the wonders of science, the perils of technology, and the sacrifices of people in thrall to their power." -- Booklist

"Rosner's lyrical new novel chronicles the rise and fall of this company town, following several generations of immigrants and the Native American people who watched them come...Through layers of time 'sticky like amber, ' Rosner etches images of family, community and the electric power of love." -- Jane Ciabattari, BBC

Praise for Blue Nude

"An elegiac story of an emotionally and creatively starved artist and his muse..The present diverges to the past, and Rosner develops her protagonists as though they are pieces of art, slowly becoming unveiled. Although their backgrounds are divergent, their interior lives are similar. Rosner's multilayered composition is rendered in beautiful, spare prose and will resonate long after the last page." --Publishers Weekly

"We watch, spellbound, as the story seems to levitate midair, as the characters seamlessly unfold a plot that is no less than fascinating. Using the rhythms of poetry, Elizabeth Rosner has created a lyrical tour de force." --Linda Gray Sexton, Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide

"Rosner has a painter's eye and a poet's ear. Blue Nude is a luminous book about painful histories -- both private and global -- and how they stay with us even as they travel through to become something else - quite possibly art. A book both heady and tangible, both unflinching and generous, but always beautiful to read." --Karen Joy Fowler, The Jane Austen Book Club

"Through German artist, Danzig, and Israeli muse, Merav, Elizabeth Rosner builds a bridge from loss to reconciliation, from anger to understanding. Blue Nude is a lyrical exploration of how we -- as individuals and as a society -- move past our separate histories and toward a shared redemption. This is truly a lovely book." --Meg Waite Clayton, The Wednesday Sisters

"Blue Nude is a novel which spans time and continents, from post war Germany to California to Israeli kibbutzim, a novel which explores the big questions of history, fate, art, how we choose to live the lives we're given-and yet it's also wonderfully intimate as well in its exploration of the hearts of its individual characters. Elizabeth Rosner has written a thought provoking, moving and original book." --Dan Chaon,
Await Your Reply and Stay Awake

"Rosner takes on complexity with a brilliant poet's insistence that the body can never surrender cultural legacy. Blue Nude is easy to pick up and, in its suspense, hard to put down. Its sensitivity to detail acts as a love letter to the world." --Edie Meidav, Crawl Space

"What I like especially about Elizabeth Rosner's Blue Nude is its patience and careful pace, both utterly appropriate to a story of troubled reconciliation. In its insistence that sweetness (honeyed, not saccharine) can come out of violence, Blue Nude resembles the astonishing Israeli film Walk on Water which also takes on the contemporary legacy of German-Jewish relations. It helps that Ms. Rosner has a poet's eye and an enviable ability to allow both her lapidary sentences and her deeply complex characters space to breathe." --Jonathan Wilson

Praise for The Speed of Light

2002 Harold U. Ribalow Prize
Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award in Fiction
Selected for the Hadassah National Book Club 2003
Book Sense 76 Pick in 2001

"The Speed of Light is an elegant, meticulous, and quite subtle novel about lives lived at a remove from, but forever connected to, tragedy--the camps. Ms. Rosner's imaginative aim, of course, is to show us great human importance where we might've thought it didn't reside, and to change us with this knowledge. She certainly succeeds." --Richard Ford

"A resonating novel about silence and sharing, about the mystery and pain of the past and how it must be reclaimed. Beautifully written, in images that sing in our ears long after we've put the book down." --Chitra Ranerjee Divakaruni, The Mistress of Spices and The Unknown Errors of Our Lives

"Rilke memorably defined art as exactness, a hatred of the vague, and by that definition The Speed of Light is poetry sustained. The precision of the language here, the structural arrangements and the deft evocation of character in history all herald a genuine talent--not so much emerging as achieved. Ms. Rosner's debut novel turns sorrow into song." --Nicholas Delbanco, What Remains

"With its symphony of voices, The Speed of Light tells a haunting story of loss and redemption. It is beautifully written and utterly affecting." --Tova Mirvis, The Ladies Auxiliary

"Elizabeth Rosner touches a chord deep down where our fears are buried, then makes that chord vibrate and hum until magic happens and it sings. I loved this book. It entered my dreams." --Beverly Donofrio, Riding in Cars with Boys and Looking For Mary

"Elizabeth Rosner has written a lyrical and absorbing novel whose power is enriched by its understatement. This uncommon story not only probes how children wrestle with the silence handed down to them by a silent father cursed with inexhaustible sorrow, but it also tells us of the healing magic of love and does so through a marvelous and unusual character--a Latino housekeeper--who will find an enduring spot in readers' hearts." --Joseph Berger, Displaced Persons: Growing Up American After the Holocaust

"[An]impressive debut... As witnesses, [Rosner's] characters move forward, healed or not. They tell the truth, share their pain, and prop each other up. It seems there's a lesson there for us all." --San Francisco Chronicle

"An affirmation of the goodness of life... The author of The Speed of Light possess[es] the soul of a poet, so rich is the texture of her language, so filled with music [and] and imagery." --The Jewish Review

"A haunting tale of timeless secrets and timely salvation... A spellbinding tribute to the revelations that redeem us and the emotions that ennoble us." --Booklist (boxed and starred review)

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