Allen Kurzweil, Author, on 15 February 2002

An opportunity to hear a contemporary author talk about his own works occurred when Allen Kurzweil launched his second novel's UK publication at BRLSI.

The Grand Complication is a modern day thriller set in a public library. As Kurzweil explained he received a one-year fellowship to work in the New York Public Library which permitted him to enhance his novel with numerous bits of relevant information about the functions of a large institution.

The book takes advantage of an instance that occurred in 1983 while Kuzweil was serving as a freelance writer. During an interview a report came in of a stolen watch—not just any watch but the Marie Antoinette by the famous 18th century French clockmaker, Breguet.

Kurzweil loves obscure and arcane facts and the BRLSI audience enjoyed his fascinating stories about this queen of watches and his quest to learn more about the internal workings of a library. His reading covered a visit by a uninterested high school group required to tour the library and how the lead character of the novel used his understanding and obscure knowledge to actually gain the young people's attention.

Prof. Jolyon Howorth of the University of Bath introduced the speaker as a well reviewed author both in the US and the UK. Kurzweil's first novel "A Case of Curiosities" was published in 1992. It received great critical acclaim, including a front-page review in the New York Times Book Review, and literary honours in England, France, Ireland, and Italy, and was an international best seller translated in twelve languages. Doris Lessing said about The Grand Complication: " I admire this ingenious book, which will enthral all lovers of books and libraries". The Philadelphia Inquirer called the book "Wickedly clever. Ultimately it is this book's wise heart—not its prodigious head—that makes it memorable."

Betty Suchar