James Gleick

The author of The Information on three works of literary genius.



A three-time Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist, James Gleick chronicles the cultural impact of science and technology in books hailed for their power to illuminate complex ideas.  Since his debut Chaos: Making a New Science introduced the layperson to the butterfly effect, he has captured the lives of Isaac Newton and Richard Feynman. His most recent work of non-fiction, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood, documents the emergence of our data-saturated society. Here James Gleick points us to what he calls "three novels not quite of this world."


Books by James Gleick




The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

By David Mitchell


"Mitchell traverses worlds and minds like no other writer I know. This book is set at a unique moment in human history, when two great cultures, alien to one another, came together across a chokingly narrow portal: the European trading post called Dejima, a 400-foot long artificial island in the bay of Nagasaki in the last days of the 18th century. There are collisions of ideas, collisions of language, and collisions of the heart--because above all this is a love story."



The Infinities

By John Banville


"In what seems at first to be present day Ireland, Adam Godley lies dying at the family estate. He is a physicist who solved a great problem of parallel universes--and gradually we realize that we're in one. Banville, too, is a master traveler through consciousnesses. Our narrator seems to be Hermes, the son of Zeus, and that's only the beginning."




By Tom McCarthy


"We begin here at a school for deaf children in the south of England in the early days of radio. 'Wireless ghosts' flit in and out of the life story of Serge Carrefax, a World War I flying ace, drug addict, and polymath. Serge is obsessed with signs and codes--the hope of connection and the possibilities of meaning. Another brilliant mind-bender."


April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."