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      William Saroyan International Prize for Writing

Rivka Galchen

Atmospheric Disturbances

Rivka Galchen

About the Author

Rivka Galchen's short stories and essays have appeared in many publications including Harper's, The New Yorker, Walrus, Scientific American and the New York Times. Atmospheric Disturbances, her first novel, was shortlisted for the Governor General's award and is translated into over 20 languages. She was a 2006 Rona Jaffe fellow and this year was named one of the New Yorker’s 20 Most Promising Novelists Under 40. Rivka Galchen was born in Toronto and now lives in New York City.

About the Book

While everyone else may be fooled, psychiatrist Leo Liebenstein knows better. His wife is not his wife. She is a dead-ringer—a doppelganger—but something is very wrong. This isn’t Rema. Could it be that his wife is involved in some infidelity? But why would infidelity lead to disappearance? Or false appearance? With nothing for Leo to go on except a potential clue relating to one of his patients, Harvey—a man who believes he is a secret agent with control over the weather—Leo sets off on a humorous and science-steeped odyssey to unravel the mystery of his missing wife and to resolve Harvey’s “conflict with the consensus view of reality.” Moving from New York City to the southern reaches of Patagonia, Atmospheric Disturbances is a brilliantly inventive and addictive adventure, mixed with a scientific exploration of the uncontested truths we know are false.

Critics / Reviews

“…a brainy, whimsical, emotionally contained first novel”
The New York Times

“A testimony to the inherent power of storytelling. . . . A most impressive balancing act, and one certainly worth witnessing first-hand. Well worth reading.”
The Globe and Mail
“…a clever, stylish debut…”
Quill and Quire

“Beguiling. . . . A heartbreaking tale about the loss, and even the disappearance, of love.”
The Vancouver Sun

“Galchen’s voice is unique…refreshingly so. She has an excellent sense of pacing, and her dialogue is sharp and funny. …Atmospheric Disturbances is heartbreaking.”
The Walrus

"What’s real? Who’s who? Can we believe anything? Hard to say in this story of psychotherapist Leo, who thinks his wife has been replaced by a doppelgänger. Playful, disturbing, heartbreaking."
Now Magazine

“A powerful novel about love, longing, Doppler radar and the true appreciation of a nice cookie with your tea. . . . Fantastic.”
— Nathan Englander, Author of The Ministry of Special Cases

“Part thriller, part romance, part autobiography, part psychological study, [Galchen’s] sweetly skewed brilliance and stealth-bomb sadness will make you swoon with this realization: yes, these kinds of books are still possible.”
— Heidi Julavits, Author of The Uses of Enchantment

“Reader, you are holding in your hands one of my favourite novels ever. . . . This is a novel of Borgesian erudition, wit and playfulness. It is also as funny as any episode of The Simpsons. . . . Atmospheric Disturbances delivers unforgettable joy.”
— Francisco Goldman, Author of The Divine Husband


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