An elderly Pole sits in a cafe in Krakow. At another table a young man with a ravaged face is drinking wine and reading Werner Heisenberg's Physics and Philosophy. They begin to talk. All through the night as they go from bar to bar the young man tells the story of the great love of his life, of how in the midst of their rapture the woman inexplicably disappeared, and of how he is now driving across Europe in a desperate attempt to find her. After they part in the pre-dawn light the old man returns to his rooms and finds himself beset by questions. Why can he not forget this young man? Who was the woman he was with and why did she leave him? These questions lead him back through his own life, from pre- and post-war Poland, to his membership of the Communist Party and his own life-altering love affair with a woman he met in Berlin and then ran away with to the sand dunes of the Baltic coast until she, too, left him without explanation. Through the years that followed he wandered the world trying to escape from the memory of her.
Now, back in a small town in Poland, he begins to assemble stories both from his own past and that of the young man and the woman he loved and lost until he finds himself on an unexpected quest. Light traverses Europe and parts of America, the history of physics and political changes in Central Europe. It is about love and ruin, East and West, friendship and betrayal, the search for certainty and the consequent disillusionment. It is, too, about the making of stories and how they can lead, inadvertently, to revelation.
Timothy O'Grady was born in the USA and has lived in Ireland, London and Spain. He is the author (with Kenneth Griffith) of Curious Journey: An Oral History of Ireland's Unfinished Revolution, and the novels Motherland, which won the David Higham award for the best first novel in 1989, and I Could Read the Sky, which won the Encore award for best second novel of 1997. His book On Golf was published by Yellow Jersey to superb reviews in 2003.
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