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AuthorChris Bohjalian
Cover TypeHard Copy
Date Published2013
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Posted Oct 22, 2013
Category: Fiction
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05.18.2017 12:20 PM (341 Days Ago) 0 comments Categories: Memoir  Tags: non-fiction 
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11.16.2016 07:15 PM (523 Days Ago) 0 comments Categories: Non-Fiction  Tags: non-fiction 
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07.01.2016 06:52 AM (662 Days Ago) 1 comments Categories: Fiction  Tags: fiction short stories 
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Synopsis

The Light in the Ruins is a spellbinding novel of love, despair, and revenge – set in war-ravaged Tuscany.

Discussion with author Chris Bohjalian on Tuesday, November 19 at 1:00 p.m. EST

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  •  Fred wrote 1628 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    I really enjoyed the book and its time travel. I took a wild guess as to the killer and was correct. I listened to it on CD and the voice was not a give away, but was not true. Did you hear it and if so, was it intentionally neutral?
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1618 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Interesting book - really enjoyed the focus on the theft of art. Very relavant in light of the recent discovery in Germany. I'm looking forward to the discussion tomorrow.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1618 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I'm almost finished! Please don't spoil the ending... : )
     
       
     
     
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  •  Benjamin_Geizhals wrote 1618 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I am very interested in the underlying subject of the theft of artworks. I would like to know about the research that went into the writing of the book.
     
       
     
     
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  •  DebbieLindner wrote 1618 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Thank you for the opportunity to ask questions. I am wondering how difficult is it to write about something you (I imagine) have never experienced, nor could ever do - like committing murder?
     
       
     
     
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  •  Fred wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    What is the derivation of the heartless practice depicted in your book?
     
       
     
     
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  •  Anonymous wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I am one of your "crazy readers"....
    Do you allow yourself a period of euphoria after publishing? Or are you a "crazy writer" agonizing over your next story? .... Joanne
     
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  •  janetmarcazzolo wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I enjoyed the novel very much, especially the historical references. I am interested in the Serafina character, and how her adult life featured so many contridations, particularly in having an internal struggle and weakness, yet still being strong enough able to handle her occupation. What was your inspiration for her, and how did you come to choose a female to hold a position in which was (at the time) male dominated? Thank you, Janet
     
       
     
     
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  •  Phyllis_Newbert wrote 1617 Days Ago (positive) 
     
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    Because of the Gotham Book Club I read your book and I am grateful to the introduction to your writing. I truly did lose sleep sometimes because I couldn't put this book down and my heart was racing from the anxiety. My grandparents were in the United States during WWII but many of our relatives still in Italy had to live through that time. I had never really thought about what they had gone through until reading this story. Unfortunately, these same horrors are occurring in other countries despite the lessons we have learned. You've definitely raised my awareness. Wonderful book. Thank you.
     
       
     
     
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  •  ChrisBohjalian wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Greetings all! Happy to be here!
     
       
     
     
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  •  ChrisBohjalian wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hi, Fred. It was very difficult to figure out how to do that voice on audio. It couldn't sound Italian or German or accented American. It had to be. . .neutral. I thought that narrator and the director did a spectacular job. I listened to a lot of takes and thought their final strategy was perfect. So, big props to everyone at Random House Audio!
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I found the scene where the killer is evaluation the Caravaggio's Sacrifice of Abraham to be very striking. I've looked at many Caravaggio's but never from such a perspective….
     
       
     
     
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  •  ChrisBohjalian wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Thanks, John. And I am looking forward to the movie, "The Monuments Men," next month.
     
       
     
     
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  •  ChrisBohjalian wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hello, Benjamin. There are a lot of terrific and powerful books about the Nazis' theft of art in WW2. I would begin with Robert Edsel's books, including "The Monuments Men." Also, spend a few minutes with the film, "The Rape of Europa."
     
       
     
     
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  •  ChrisBohjalian wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Thanks, John. I looked at a lot of art when I was writing the novel, and that Caravaggio really hit home.
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I'm interested in the focus on the Etruscans - I remember my Art History classes saying how mysterious they really were (that was 30 years ago.) Did the Nazis really think they may have ascended from them?
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Welcome back Chris! So great to have you with us.
     
       
     
     
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  •  ChrisBohjalian wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hi, Debbie. Being a novelist is about using your imagination. It's what we do. In my career, I've written from the perspective of a home birth midwife, a transsexual lesbian, an African-American foster child, a woman struggling to survive a Nazi death march at the end of WW2, a mute little girl who is struggling to survive in the midst of the Armenian Genocide. That writing idea that you should write what you know? I do not subscribe to it. I write what I do not know -- though I always do a lot of homework.
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I will never look at a Caravaggio the same way again.
     
       
     
     
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  •  ChrisBohjalian wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hello, Janet.

    Serafina began as a minor secondary character -- an antithesis to Cristina. Similar family structure, but she is a partisan fighting and struggling to survive in the woods. No lovely villa for her!

    The morning I was at my desk planning to kill her in the firefight. . .I realized I could not. I liked her too much -- her strength, her ferocity, her intelligence.

    So, instead, I merely disfigured her.

    And when I was done, I realized I had my Lisbeth Salander -- my Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

    The structure of the book changed. Instead of being set ONLY in the last years of the war, it would now be set in the last years of the war and 1955. It would move back and forth and time.

    My books are always like that. They change a lot while I am writing them.
     
       
     
     
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  •  ChrisBohjalian wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hi, Fred.

    The heartless reference? Sardinian, I believe.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I am intrigued by how your novels evolve - how you intend for one thing to happen, and at the stroke of a key - the story can completely change course. I imagine that you, as a writer, evolve too with each character's development.
     
       
     
     
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  •  ChrisBohjalian wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hello, Phyllis,

    Yes, Tuscany was an innermost ring of Dante's inferno in 1944.

    As we were fighting our way north against a ferocious German rear-guard action, the Nazis were ruthlessly executing partisans or partisan allies. Meanwhile, the Italians themselves were in the midst of a veritable civil war, with the partisans battling Mussolini's blackshirts.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    And since you mentioned it, MIDWIVES is my favorite book of yours so far. Then, the Double Bind.
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    The situations you created are intriguing - I found myself asking myself how I would have acted…could I have fallen in love with a German during that period. The messiness of the end of that war…I kept thinking of Rossellini's Open City.
     
       
     
     
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  •  ChrisBohjalian wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hi, Julie,

    I like to believe I evolve with my books, but (alas) I probably don't. Still, one can hope.

    And if you enjoyed Midwives and The Double Bind, I think you will be really pleased with my 2014 novel. It arrives on July 8 and it is called "Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands." Here is what it is about:

    A heartbreaking, wildly inventive, and moving novel narrated by a teenage runaway, from the bestselling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls.

    Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is the story of Emily Shepard, a homeless teen living in an igloo made of ice and trash bags filled with frozen leaves. Half a year earlier, a nuclear plant in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom had experienced a cataclysmic meltdown, and both of Emily's parents were killed. Devastatingly, her father was in charge of the plant, and the meltdown may have been his fault. Was he drunk when it happened? Thousands of people are forced to flee their homes in the Kingdom; rivers and forests are destroyed; and Emily feels certain that as the daughter of the most hated man in America, she is in danger. So instead of following the social workers and her classmates after the meltdown, Emily takes off on her own for Burlington, where she survives by stealing, sleeping on the floor of a drug dealer's apartment, and inventing a new identity for herself -- an identity inspired by her favorite poet, Emily Dickinson. When Emily befriends a young homeless boy named Cameron, she protects him with a ferocity she didn't know she had. But she still can't outrun her past, can't escape her grief, can't hide forever—and so she comes up with the only plan that she can.

    A story of loss, adventure, and the search for friendship in the wake of catastrophe, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is one of Chris Bohjalian’s finest novels to date—breathtaking, wise, and utterly transporting.
     
       
     
     
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  •  ChrisBohjalian wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hi again, John,

    Thanks for the reminder about Open City. I have not seen that and I know I should -- so I will.

    Yup, it was messy. And for patricians such as the Rosati family? Almost a no-win situation.
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    You also captured the great hope that the Allies were coming. Years ago when I was staying in Sicily - there were people there that had lived through the war - when they learned we were American they greeted us with open arms and continued to bring us food though out our stay.
     
       
     
     
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  •  ChrisBohjalian wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hi again, John,

    That's a lovely story about Sicily. Thank you.

    I think as Americans we can be very, very, VERY proud of most of what we did in Italy in WW2.
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    You upcoming novel sounds great - looking forward to it!
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I'm ready to take another trip to Italy - were you thinking of a specific place when you came up with the estate and the tombs?
     
       
     
     
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  •  ChrisBohjalian wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Thanks, Julie. I like "Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands" a lot. I have become very protective of my two Emilies.
     
       
     
     
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  •  ChrisBohjalian wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Hello, John.

    I was thinking of the village of Montisi and my great friends' villa: Fonte la Volta. (That's why my fictional village is called Monte Volta.) The burial site was inspired by the Etruscan necropolis at Cerveteri.
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    I'll put that site on my list of places to visit. I saw the documentary "The Rape of Europa." It's quite astounding what Hitler tried to pillage. Still today many works are missing - the Amber Room from St. Petersburg - parts of the Ghent Alter Piece and so forth. Vittore attempt to stop them is admirable, but a hard task….so many of the characters were in difficult places.
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Chris - thank you so much for visiting with us today. It was a most enjoyable book and discussion!
     
       
     
     
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  •  Julie_Klein wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Thank you Chris! It's been an enlightening hour! We appreciate your time and thoughtful responses. Good luck with the next book!
     
       
     
     
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  •  ChrisBohjalian wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Thanks, John. I liked Vittore as a character. I know some readers found him too angry and cynical, but I thought -- as you point out -- he was actually rather idealistic underneath that curmudgeonly facade.

    And I want to thank all of you who joined me today at the Gotham Book Club. All of you rock.

    And Julie and Fred, thanks so much for inviting me. Color me very grateful!
     
       
     
     
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  •  John_Buscarello wrote 1617 Days Ago (neutral) 
     
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    Julie,
    Thanks again for arranging the discussion.
     
       
     
     
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