‘Last December, a woman entered my apartment who looked exactly like my wife…’ Dr Leo Liebenstein is convinced that his wife has disappeared and that she has been replaced by a double.
While everyone else may be fooled, Leo knows she cannot be his real wife, and sets off on a quixotic journey to reclaim his lost love. With the help of his psychiatric patient Harvey – who believes himself to be a secret agent who can control the weather – Leo attempts to unravel this mystery. Why has his wife been replaced? What do the secret workings of The Royal Society of Meteorology have to do with it? Who is the enigmatic Dr. Tzvi Gal-Chen, and is he, or maybe his wife, or perhaps even Harvey, at the center of it all? From the streets of New York to the southernmost reaches of Patagonia, Leo’s erratic quest ultimately becomes a test of how far he is willing to take his struggle against the uncontested truth he knows to be false.
Atmospheric Disturbances is at once a moving love story, a dark comedy, a psychological thriller, and a deeply disturbing portrait of a fracturing mind. In this highly inventive debut, with tremendous compassion and dazzling literary sophistication, Rivka Galchen explores the mysterious nature of human relationships, and how we spend our lives trying to weather the storms of our own making.
Reviews of Atmospheric Disturbances
‘Rivka Galchen’s Atmospheric Disturbances is playful yet profound, Murakami-esque yet original, analytical yet heartbreaking. It’s an absolutely stunning and unforgettable debut.’ Vendela Vida, author of Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name
‘Rivka Galchen has written a powerful novel about love, longing, Doppler radar, and the true appreciation of a nice cookie with your tea. ‘Atmospheric Disturbances’ is fantastic.’ Nathan Englander, author of ‘The Ministry of Special Cases’.
‘Reader, you are holding in your hand one of my favorite novels ever: Rivka Galchen’s divinely hilarious, heartbreaking tale of Leo’s search for his ‘lost’ wife Rema. This is a novel of Borgesian erudition, wit, and playfulness, though its obsessively pursued subject – as it rarely was in the Argentine’s fiction – is love, the enraptured lover, and the mystery of the beloved, the intersection of love’s fictions, realities, and pathologies. It is also as funny as any episode of the Simpsons (imagine Homer as a besotted and brilliant New York psychiatrist). The prose jumps with one astonishing observation, insight, and description after another. ‘Atmospheric Disturbances’ delivers unforgettable joy.’ Francisco Goldman, author of ‘The Divine Husband’.
‘Galchen has created a heart breaking puzzle of a novel. Hilarious and daring. The novel tracks the way we seek to destroy our most precious love affairs and, in doing so, our own sanity. The hero, Leo, is like a brilliant mad scientist trying to prove that the earth is flat, because he desperately needs a ledge high enough to jump off of.’ Heather O’Neill, author of Lullabies for Little Criminals