By Alan Lightman
(Pantheon, Hardcover, 9780375421693, 256pp.)
Publication Date: October 23, 2007
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Alan Lightman’s first novel, Einstein’s Dreams, became an international best seller and was hailed by Salman Rushdie as “at once intellectually provocative and touching and comic and so very beautifully written.” His novel The Diagnosis, called “highly original and imaginative” by the New York Times, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Now comes a stunning and disturbing new novel about a man’s encounter with the unfathomable.
David is a person of modest ambitions who works in a bank, lives in a rooming house, enjoys books and quiet walks by the lake. Three months after unexpectedly being fired from his job, he takes a temporary position at a mortuary. And there, sitting alone in the “slumber room” one afternoon at dusk, he sees something that he cannot comprehend, something that no science can explain, something that will force him to question everything he believes in, including himself. After his metaphysical experience, all his relationships change-—with his estranged wife, his girlfriend, his mother--and he grudgingly finds himself at the center of a bitter public controversy over the existence of the supernatural. As David struggles to understand what has happened to him, we embark on a provocative exploration of the delicate divide between the physical world and the spiritual world, between skepticism and faith, between the natural and the supernatural, and between science and religion.
Combining a dramatic story with compelling characters and provocative ideas, Ghost investigates timeless questions that continue to challenge contemporary society.
Alan Lightman is the author of four previous novels, two collections of essays, and several books on science. His work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Granta, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, and Nature, among many other publications. A theoretical physicist as well as a novelist, he has served on the faculties of Harvard and MIT, and was the first person to receive a dual faculty appointment at MIT in science and in the humanities. He lives in the Boston area.
"Ghost is subtly and delicately narrated, a prolonged and unwavering look at a serious, controversial subject."
--Joyce Carol Oates, author of The Gravedigger's Daughter
"A fascinating novel, splendidly framed and elegantly told. I'm moved by the characters and by the narrator's insights into the nature of reality. I read Ghost with relish."
--Ha Jin, author of War Trash
"Both characterization and narrative are compelling, and I loved all the background of the funeral parlor. I particularly appreciated the sympathetic picture of the kind of people who are often mocked or patronized in novels--I thought there was a certain kinship with the work of Richard Ford."
--Michael Frayn, author of Copenhagen
"This is an important novel, and it deserves a lot of attention. I absorbed it as an allegory of the birth of superstition and a trip into the scary zone between the palpable and supernatural taken even by the educated twenty-first-century mind."
--Edward O. Wilson, author of Consilience