André Aciman with Paul LeClerc
André Aciman returns to the essay form in Homo Irrealis (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) to explore what the present tense means to artists who cannot grasp the here and now. Irrealis is not about the present, or the past, or the future, but about what might have been but never was—but could in theory still happen. From meditations on subway poetry and the temporal resonances of an empty Italian street, to considerations of the lives and work of Sigmund Freud, Constantine Cavafy, W. G. Sebald, John Sloan, Éric Rohmer, Marcel Proust, and Fernando Pessoa, and portraits of cities such as Alexandria and St. Petersburg, Homo Irrealis is a deep reflection of the imagination’s power to shape our memories under time’s seemingly intractable hold.
André Aciman, who has made several memorable reading visits to Elliott Bay in-person, is the New York Times bestselling author of Call Me By Your Name, Out of Egypt, Eight White Nights, False Papers, Alibis, Harvard Square, Enigma Variations, and Find Me. He's the editor of The Proust Project and teaches comparative literature at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.