Rivka Galchen - Atmospheric Disturbances (4 stars)

Rivka Galchen - Atmospheric Disturbances

(Fourth Estate)


Very few books are either complex enough to keep a reader interested until the end or simple enough to describe in a few words. The debut novel by Rivka Galchen proves it is possible to be both. The story is easy: man loses wife, replica wife appears, man goes on worldwide search for real wife. The man is Leo Liebenstein, a psychiatrist who immediately notices his replacement is very slightly different to his usual one.

His profession is a masterstroke, as this device allows Galchen to experiment with a whole series of wild theories as to what has really happened here, taking in communication with the dead, parallel universes and, bizarrely, weather changing syndicates, while remaining, at heart, a love story. This book is thoroughly ridiculous, but that’s a high compliment. Rivka Galchen is a writer who is already making an impression in America, and soon will be here.

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