The History of Love



New York Times Bestseller

Winner of the Saroyan Prize for International Literature

Winner of the Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger

Shortlisted for the 2005 Orange Prize in Fiction

Shortlisted for the Médicis Prize 

Shortlisted for the Femina Prize


Leo Gursky is trying to survive a little bit longer, tapping his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he’s still alive, drawing attention to himself at the milk counter of Starbucks. But life wasn’t always like this: sixty years ago, in the Polish village where he was born, Leo fell in love and wrote a book. And although he doesn’t know it, that book also survived: it crossed oceans and generations, and changed lives.

Fourteen-year-old Alama was named after a character in that book. She has her hands full keeping track of her little brother Bird (who thinks he might be the Messiah) and taking copious notes in her book, How to Survive in the Wild Volume Three. But when a mysterious letter arrives in the mail she undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family.

In her extraordinary new novel Nicole Krauss has created some of the most memorable and moving characters in recent fiction. A tale brimming with laughter, passion, and soaring imaginative power, The History of Love confirms Krauss as one of the most remarkable writers of her generation.


Vertiginously exciting…vibrantly imagined….Krauss [is] a prodigious talent….Beyond the vigorous whiplash that keeps Ms. Krauss’s The History of Love moving (and keeps its reader off balance until a stunning finale), this novel is tightly packed with ingenious asides….Even at their most oddball, these flourishes reflect the deep, surprising wisdom that gives this novel its ultimate heft….Krauss’s work is illuminated by the warmth and delicacy of her prose.

Janet Maslin, New York Times

The novel’s achievement is precisely this: to have made a new fiction―alternately delightful and hilarious and deeply affecting.

Claire Messud, LA Weekly

The History of Love is a significant novel, genuinely one of the year’s best….Emotionally wrenching yet intellectually rigorous, idea-driven but with indelible characters and true suspense.

New York

Confirms the depth and breadth of [Krauss’s] talent.


Devastating….One of the most passionate vindications of the written word in recent fiction. It takes one’s breath away.


Even in moments of startling peculiarity, [Krauss] touches the most common elements of the heart. In the final pages, the fractured stories of The History of Love fall together like a desperate embrace.

Ron Charles, Washington Post

A witty, emotional and ambitiously literary work…populated with sharp, deeply sympathetic characters.

Rolling Stone

Wonderful and haunting…deftly layered…its mysteries are intricate and absorbing and its characters unforgettable….Not quite a thriller, not exactly a coming-of-age story, nor a Holocaust memoir, The History of Love manages to be all three and also something more: a breathtaking meditation on loss and love. It’s the sort of book that makes life bearable after all.

Miami Herald

Moving and virtuosic.

San Francisco Chronicle

The History of Love has perfect pitch and does its dance of time between contemporary New York and the wanderings of the Jews with unsentimental heart-breaking grace. [Krauss] also happens to write like an angel.

Simon Schama, Guardian

Astounding, moving, very funny…a joy to read. Leo Gursky is brilliantly drawn.

Times Literary Supplement

When Nicole Krauss published her first novel, Man Walks Into a Room, at age 27, reviewers described her as a young writer burning with promise. Three years later, she seems to have proved them right…one of the most highly anticipated literary novels of the spring.

Wall Street Journal

A beautifully constructed, frequently funny and ultimately moving tale…The History of Love unspools a number of disparate story lines―about a lonely Polish immigrant, a teenage girl, a grieving widow―and then delightfully pulls them together into a striking coherence.

Time Out New York

An accomplished acrobatic feat.

Boston Sunday Globe

Extraordinary….The History of Love is a complex, funny, sad, elegantly constructed meditation on the power of love, language and imagination….Krauss’s beautifully imagined characters are funny, rueful, smart and sometimes almost unbearably poignant.

Seattle Times

[A] breathtaking sophomore novel….Luminous….Krauss is a masterful storyteller…of astonishing breadth….With luck, Krauss has many decades ahead of sculpting deliciously witty, complicated novels. Let’s hope she does.

Cleveland Plain Dealer

A tender tribute to human valiance. Who could be unmoved by a cast of characters whose daily battles are etched on our mind in such diamond-cut prose?

Independent on Sunday

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss…is a novel to remind you of the power of fiction―funny and sad and devastating and hopeful often all at the same time.

Publishers Weekly

Brilliant….A most unusual and original piece of fiction―and not to be missed.

Kirkus Reviews

A literary riddle by a deft and canny young novelist.

O Magazine

Captivating….Krauss writes superbly.

Houston Chronicle

Krauss has an impressive imagination and considerable talent…a memorable feat of storytelling, fine prose and heartbreakingly real characters.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune

[The History of Love] has all the components of enduring fiction: an idiosyncratic structure, a wise and searching voice, a series of embedded incidents that read like mystery.

Chicago Tribune

Big, bold, twist-your-heart sad, kick-your-heels joyful―Nicole Krauss’s brilliant novel is as deep and multifaceted as love itself.

Marie Claire

Krauss’s writing is so engrossing, at once so fragile and brittle and sharp and pulsing with life, and the voices she creates are so real, that we are quickly absorbed into this mournful yet ultimately life-affirming novel….Krauss has created a satisfying, fascinating work of fiction that is at once funny, poetic and mysterious. And in Leo Gursky, she has created a character that hobbles off the page and sits on the park bench next to you.

San Antonio Express-News

A bold, exquisite writer with amazing vision and depth. She is a risk-taker and a breathtaking prose stylist….The History of Love defies the facile. It is an experience.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Krauss’s novel is bursting with colorful characters, suspense, true love, and tenderness.

Booksense Picks, #1 Pick

It’s hard not to care about these characters because they are painted with such tenderness and truth.

Rocky Mountain News


Times-Picayune, New Orleans

Deeply moving…irresistible….[Krauss] refuses to hold anything back.

Ruth Franklin, The New Republic

In her graceful inquiry into the interplay between life and literature, Krauss is winsome, funny, and affecting.


Believe the hype. The History of Love is one of the most imaginative and engaging pieces of literary fiction of the past year (at least!).

Poignant, imaginative, funny and even suspenseful….A book that will steal your heart.

Arizona Republic

‘Beautiful’ is not a word to be thrown around lightly, but it is the first one that comes to mind in relation to Nicole Krauss’s second novel…her writing is flawless.

Newark Sunday Star-Ledger

Leo’s poignant, often hilarious ruminations ring piercingly true, and they show beautifully showcase Krauss’s expanse imagination….[It] is a whimsical, wistful epic that gradually unbraids several intertwined mysteries, and the climaxes of both texts come together with an effortless click and a sigh of wonder…this is complex, inventive storytelling at its best.

Ruminator Review, St. Paul, Minnesota

The History of Love is one of those novels you want to reread the minute you finish.

Jewish Woman

The authenticity of the humour contrasted with the sadness is extraordinarily moving. Krauss is the real thing; The History of Love is a novel to be read and reread.

Globe and Mail

This wonderful novel is poignant, imaginative, funny, and even suspenseful….A book that will steal your heart.

Halifax Sunday Herald

A wonderful novel erupting with life…building to a perfect, heartbreaking end.

Daily Mail

Undoubtedly the work of a formidably talented novelist.


Its primary effect is to warm and sadden the cockles of the heart.

Financial Times

For all the complexity of this book, it has the simplicity of pure emotion, and is a delight because of it.

The Times

Endearing. Krauss is an entertaining, humane and intelligent writer.


Captivating….Characters fly off the page and into your consciousness.

Good Housekeeping

Poignant and evocative…the writing is beautiful, and the twists and turns keep you riveted until the last page.

Easy Living

Krauss’s complex Russian-doll structure demands―and repays―concentration. But the characters are so vivid and human that it never feels like hard work.

Marie Claire UK

A new star in the literary firmament…one of the most touching stories you are ever likely to read.

In Style

Charming, tender, and wholly original.

J.M. Coetzee

The interwoven threads of this marvelous tapestry offer delights at every turn. The writing is gorgeous, and Krauss’s questing characters follow surprising and touching paths.

Andrea Barrett, author of Servants of the Map

Nicole Krauss’s Leo Gursky is all voice―frisky, aching, jittery, stunning, heart-rending, irresistible. There’s nothing like his voice, nor will there ever be. A cross between I. B. Singer and Woody Allen, Kafka and Leopold Bloom, Nicole Krauss’s gripping new voice doesn’t work its way into the pantheon of American voices: it literally walks straight up to them and asks them to move over―or else it will haunt their living days and nights. And it does just that. You can’t shut it off, can’t put it out of your mind, can’t live without hoping to run into it again and again. Leo Gursky is here to stay. And we are the luckier for it.

Andre Aciman, author of Out of Egypt

The History of Love is such a unique and beautiful book, one I read with great pleasure quite literally from the first sentence to the last. It is a mystery, a prose poem, a meditation, a single answer to many questions. It is the kind of book one hopes to find but rarely does: a work that captivates, challenges, and consoles, all at once. Nicole Krauss is proof positive that great literature is being written today.

Elizabeth Berg, author of The Year of Pleasures

From the twentieth-century Jewish experience of dislocation, Nicole Krauss has constructed―with nods to Bellow and Singer and a kiss blown across the gulf of years to Bruno Schulz―a stirring, soulful novel that speaks to our won losses and loves. This book will break your heart and at once mend it.

Ken Kalfus, author of The Commissariat of Enlightenment

The triumphant song of this book is that it is an obituary told in opposition to obituaries―we live on in our dark, tender, heartbreaking mysteries and even the anonymous moments resound. A tremendous novel that will wring out our tired hearts

Colum McCann, author of Dancer

A beauty of a book, totally alive, make with real energy and nerve and craft. It restores your faith in fiction. It restores all sorts of faith.

Ali Smith, author of The Accidental