Lost and Wanted: A novel (Hardcover)

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"Freudenberger's brilliant and compassionate novel takes on the big questions of the universe and proves, again, that she is one of America's greatest writers." --Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Less

A LitHub, O Magazine, and Entertainment Weekly 'Most Anticipated Book of 2019'
A Newsday 'New Book to Look Forward To'
Listed in Kirkus Reviews' 'What to Watch for in 2019'
One of Boston.com's '20 Books to Look Out For in 2019'

An emotionally engaging, suspenseful new novel from the best-selling author, told in the voice of a renowned physicist: an exploration of female friendship, romantic love, and parenthood--bonds that show their power in surprising ways.

Helen Clapp's breakthrough work on five-dimensional spacetime landed her a tenured professorship at MIT; her popular books explain physics in plain terms. Helen disdains notions of the supernatural in favor of rational thought and proven ideas. So it's perhaps especially vexing for her when, on an otherwise unremarkable Wednesday in June, she gets a phone call from a friend who has just died.

That friend was Charlotte Boyce, Helen's roommate at Harvard. The two women had once confided in each other about everything--in college, the unwanted advances Charlie received from a star literature professor; after graduation, Helen's struggles as a young woman in science, Charlie's as a black screenwriter in Hollywood, their shared challenges as parents. But as the years passed, Charlie became more elusive, and her calls came less and less often. And now she's permanently, tragically gone.

As Helen is drawn back into Charlie's orbit, and also into the web of feelings she once had for Neel Jonnal--a former college classmate now an acclaimed physicist on the verge of a Nobel Prizewinning discovery--she is forced to question the laws of the universe that had always steadied her mind and heart.

Suspenseful, perceptive, deeply affecting, Lost and Wanted is a story of friends and lovers, lost and found, at the most defining moments of their lives.

About the Author

Nell Freudenberger is the author of the novels The Newlyweds and The Dissident, and of the story collection Lucky Girls, which won the PEN/Malamud Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Named one of The New Yorker's "20 under 40" in 2010, she is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Award, and a Cullman Fellowship from the New York Public Library. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Praise For…

“Are we connected? Are we alone? Freudenberger’s brilliant and compassionate novel takes on the big questions of the universe and proves, again, that she is one of America’s greatest writers.” —Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Less

“Lost and Wanted is a new kind of mystery novel, written with an artist's rigor and a scientist's intuition. Nell Freudenberger shines her light into the farthest reaches of the universe, and also into the whirring spaces between parents and children, lost loves, and best friends. A beautiful book." —Karen Russell

"This tender, engaging story takes a physicist for its heroine, and boldly bends the forces of the universe to the binding love between friends, between partners, between parents and their children. It’s not sci-fi, but something we might call fi-sci—a literary and emotional adventure peopled by complex, sympathetic characters, some of whom happen to do science as they navigate their most important relationships." —Dava Sobel 

“What do physics and grief have in common? How can a scientist reckon with the inexplicable, for instance, the appearance of a ghost? These are but two of the big questions that power this intellectually rich and soulfully deep novel by one of our most talented fiction writers.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

"Intellectually dazzling and almost unbearably moving. Probing the mysteries of the physical universe and the equally mysterious nature of human connection, Freudenberger writes fearlessly and lyrically about physics and grief; parenthood and friendship; the subtleties of race and the seriousness of female ambition. I've read many novels that made me think and some that made me cry, but few that did both as powerfully as this one did." —Amy Waldman

“Like the finely calibrated tools of particle physics described in its pages, Nell Freudenberger’s novel demonstrates an astonishing sensitivity to the forces that move us all. Her rendering of grief—with its shadings of denial, anger, longing, dark humor, and magic—is nothing short of perfection.” —Julie Orringer

“A magnificent novel: a warm and insightful look into human relationships and the mysteries of time. Refreshingly, the science in Lost and Wanted is never window dressing: the concepts that Freudenberger describes are integral to the plot. And the story takes unexpected turns on its way to a heartbreaking conclusion.” BookPage (starred review)

“Before the full scope of the accomplishment has sunk in—the lucid, compassionate portraits of a wide array of characters, the meticulous hand with which Freudenberger paints their world—you’ll be beguiled, as I was, by Helen’s narration, so full of humble longing and deep, sweet ruefulness.”—Jonathan Lethem

“An iridescent story of friendship. Lost and Wanted is an extraordinary book, startling in its open curiosity and love.” —Rivka Galchen

"Remarkable—a lucid, humane and wryly comic view of the way we live today. One reads the novel with pleasure and marvels at Freudenberger's courage and intelligence. A great work of art." —David Bezmozgis

“Gorgeous, brainy, and passionate. Lost and Wanted is the best kind of big American novel: a majestic book that takes on nothing less than the nature of the universe—literally—while probing that similarly infinite mystery known as the human heart. Nell Freudenberger’s writing is fearless and profound, as it absolutely must be in order to pull off this very modern ghost story that unfolds in the life of an MIT physicist. Freudenberger is one of our best novelists, and she's delivered a real powerhouse of a novel.” —Ben Fountain

“[A] stunning portrayal of grief…. Freudenberger resists the impulse to use science solely as metaphor; indeed, readers will learn a great deal about the LIGO project and its Nobel Prize–winning work with cosmic gravitational waves. The integration of ideas from physics sparks in the reader new ways of thinking about the nature of time and existence as well as, on a less cosmic scale, about human relationships. [This] story is about grief not only at the loss of [a] friend but also at the demise of countless possible futures.  A beautiful and moving novel.” Publishers Weekly (starred, boxed review)

“Compelling, seductively poetic; deeply involving, suspenseful and psychologically lush. Freudenberger’s obvious pleasure in the heady realm of physics ensures that Helen is a mesmerizing narrator. Freudenberger is spellbinding in her imaginative use of particle physics as a mirror of human entanglement and uncertainty. She ventures into the curious alignments among physics, memory, sorrow and the fate of consciousness after death. With daring, zest, insight, wit, and compassion, Lost and Wanted gracefully and thrillingly bridges the divide between science and art.” —Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)

“Brimming with wit and intelligence and devoted to things that matter: life, love, death, and the mysteries of the cosmos. Nell Freudenberger is good at explaining physics, but her real genius is in the depiction of relationships. Each one in the novel—whether between adults, adults and children, or among children—is unique, finely calibrated, and real. The title is a line from a poem by W.H. Auden, which doesn't fully hit until the end of the book, when it takes on heart-rending poignancy.” Kirkus (starred review)
Product Details
ISBN: 9780385352680
ISBN-10: 0385352689
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2019
Pages: 336
Language: English