The Geographer's Library
By Jon Fasman
(Penguin Books, Paperback, 9780143036623, 384pp.)
Publication Date: February 28, 2006
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Jon Fasman’s dizzyingly plotted intellectual thriller suggests a marriage between Dan Brown and Donna Tartt. When reporter Paul Tomm is assigned to investigate the mysterious death of a reclusive academic, he finds himself pursuing leads that date back to the twelfth century and the theft of alchemical instruments from the geographer of the Sicilian court. Now someone is trying to retrieve them. Interspersed with the present action are the stories of the men and women who came to possess those charmed—and sometimes cursed—artifacts, which have powers that go well beyond the transmutation of lead into gold. Deftly combining history, magic, suspense, and romance—and as handsomely illustrated as an ancient incunabulum—The Geographer’s Library is irresistible.
Jon Fasman was born in Chicago in 1975 and grew up in Washington, D.C. He was educated at Brown and Oxford universities and has worked as a journalist in Washington, D.C., New York, Oxford, and Moscow. His writing has appeared in The Times Literary Supplement, Slate, Legal Affairs, the Moscow Times, and The Washington Post. He is now a writer and an editor for The Economist's Web site.
1. Many people believe alchemy is merely about trying to turn lead into gold. But there is a rich tradition of alchemy running through many disciplines—from religion to chemistry, from literature to psychology. What are some examples?
"Fasman’s fast-paced tale is almost all plot... These characters are better drawn than those in The Da Vinci Code." —Newsweek
"A brainy noir . . . [a] winningly cryptic tale . . . a cabinet of wonders written by a novelist whose surname and sensibility fit comfortably on the shelf between Umberto Eco and John Fowles." —Los Angeles Times
"One of the year’s most literate and absorbing entertainments." —Kirkus Reviews