“I fell in love with Emma Eckstein the moment I saw her from the fourth gallery of the Carl Theater, and this was also the night I met Sigmund Freud.”
So begins Joseph Skibell’s absorbing and wildly imaginative new novel, A Curable Romantic, now out in paperback (excerpt below). We’ve set aside three copies for our readers. For a chance to win one, just leave a comment here or on our Facebook page and we’ll put your name in the hat!
Get ready for a brilliant romp through modern history, narrated by the romantic himself, Dr. Jakob Sammelsohn. By the tender age of twelve, he’s already been twice married, once divorced, and once widowed. He finally flees his small village and his pious, vengeful father and arrives in Vienna in 1890. A chance encounter with Sigmund Freud leads him into the arms of one of Freud’s most famous patients, who might or might not be possessed by the ghost of his ex-wife. Later he romances the beautiful and wealthy Loë Bernfeld, who draws him into the world of Esperanto and the universal language movement. His quest for true love eventually draws him to the Warsaw ghetto in 1940, where he becomes a pawn in a battle over the path to Heaven.
A Curable Romantic is a novel of personal and historical exile that could spring only from the literary imagination of a virtuoso. Often fantastical yet always grounded in tradition and history, it is that rare literary feat —a truly incomparable tale, ingenuously told, peopled with characters who live on in the memory.
Praise for A Curable Romantic:
“Intellectual comedy of the highest order.”
– J.M. Coetzee, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature and author of Summertime
“Fat, cheeky, and sweeping… A grand portrait of Eastern Europe… [with] a magnetic collection of personalities.”
– Publisher’s Weekly, starred review
“Skibell’s sweeping, imaginative epic chronicles the tumultuous life of an endearing protagonist… which includes a unique relationship with Sigmund Freud, the universal language movement, and WWII… Skibell crafts a vivid, artfully clever tale grounded in turn-of-the-century Europe.”
– Bookilist, starred review
“This is a fascinating, ambitious, and very successful novel about Jewish folklore, the quest for spiritual truth, and the darkest days of the 20th century. As he did in A Blessing for the Moon, Skibell blends gritty realism with elements of fantasy and magical realism… It is to Skibell’s credit that this complex plot comes off as believable, engaging, and often inspiring.”
– Library Journal, starred review
“An irresistible romp about a lovelorn 19th-century doctor who falls in with Sigmund Freud– and some dangerously attractive women.”
– O: The Oprah Magazine
“Skibell’s quirky humor and sweeping imagination transform weighty topics into flights of fancy.”
– Jewish Book World
“Skibell is a wildly talented writer, and portions of A Curable Romantic can take one’s breath away.”
– San Antonio Express-News
“A Curable Romantic has no end of fun with its themes, notably the limits and usefulness of language, whether the jargon of psychology, religion, Jewish doctrine, Esperanto or even the unpronounceable language of the angels. At the same time, it’s a tale of great compassion and reverence– a remarkable, deeply felt examination of man’s relationship to an ever-changing world.”
– The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“As a storyteller, Skibell is a master satirist, but his talent as a wordsmith is even greater. The writing at the sentence level is stunning without being overbearing.”
– The Atlantan