|“The Light in the Ruins elucidates, haunts and raises moral quandaries…
Bohjalian’s historical retelling is riveting…A memorable read.”
— USA Today
July 8, 2013
Dear Friends who Read and Readers who are Friends,
Right now stores around the country are unpacking their boxes of The Light in the Ruins and placing the book on tables and shelves and displays. I am packing for the “Beware the Chimera” rock and roll book tour: 19 cities in 19 days, including 7 with my great friend, Stephen Kiernan, author of The Curiosity. The t-shirt cannons are shipped to the stores and loaded. I begin the tour tonight in Burlington. Tomorrow is Manhattan and northern New Jersey. By the end of next week, I will have traveled from Raleigh to Seattle to San Diego, with many stops in between. I hope you can join me. (Click here for the full list of venues.)
The novel may have had its origins as a re-imagining of “Romeo and Juliet” when I was watching my daughter as a Shark girlfriend in “West Side Story.” Or it may have begun when I was standing next to my friend, Greg Levendusky, our bikes beside us, on a hill looking out at the Tuscan village of Montisi.
“See that granary tower,” he asked me.
I did. It towered over the town. It was, literally, medieval. A lot of Montisi is. It was inspired by the renowned Torre del Mangia in Siena: A classic castle on a chess board.
“In 1944, the Nazis tried to blow it up when they were retreating north through Tuscany,” he told me. “As you can see, they failed. They only blew off the top half.”
It’s hard today to imagine Tuscany as a battleground, but of course it was. For parts of 1944, it was an innermost ring of Dante’s inferno. I knew this from a memoir that my bookseller friend, Michael Barnard, had recommended I read years ago, before my first visit Tuscany.
Looking back at these moments, I’m honestly not sure which was the kernel that led to The Light in the Ruins. The love story? Or was it the way one of the most beautiful corners of Europe was savaged by the Second World War, and Italian peasants were the grass beneath battling elephants’ feet?
So far, the novel has been called “bewitching” by Booklist, “a soulful why-done-it” by Kirkus, and “a picturesque page turner” by Good Housekeeping. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune called it “dead solid perfect,” and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch concluded, “At the heart of a good novel is a good story, and this story is a doozy.”
I hope you enjoy reading it, too,
Or any of the online book sites.
That’s one of the nice things about the digital age. I’m not hard to find — online and, for the next few weeks, in person.
As always, I thank you all so much for your faith in my work. Truly.
All the best,