Friday, October 29, 2010

They Were Robbed! Part 2

Ask me what my favorite novel of the year was, and the answer is simple and fast to my lips: The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer.  I read it almost a full year ago (it went on sale in June) and yet it still sticks with me, one of those books that ruins reading anything else immediately afterward.  For that reason I was truly peeved that this wonderful book wasn't nominated for the National Book Award, so I'm hereby nominating it as a Slappy Award recipient.  As discussed in our last post, the Slappy is our fake award--you get a trophy! (there is no trophy)--for the best books of the year that weren't nominated for the prestigious National Book Award, and named after the Liz and Gianna dorky antics making fun of Gianna's short stature while at sales conference last March.  Gianna is definitely not a basketball player with that pathetic vertical leaping ability.  I mean, I'm not THAT tall.  She's should put a little effort into that flailing leap of hers and high five a woman.  Sheesh. 

Where was I?  Right.  Orringer.

I loved The Invisible Bridge.  It's an epic story of a young Hungarian who wins a scholarship to study architecture in Paris during the 1930's.  While there he falls in love with a fellow Hungarian expatriate, a dancer, and they wed.  With the advent of World War II, though, their lives are thrown in turmoil, and when they need to renew their visas, they find themselves trapped in Nazi-occupied Hungary for
the duration of the world.  I should mention that they are Jewish.  This is a war story, a Holocaust story, a love story, a family saga, but the book transcends these pigeon-holing categories.  There are so many places where the story or characters could veer off course and effectively ruin a fast-paced, engaging, literary reading experience, but Orringer deftly navigated the pitfalls and kept her story moving while building tension and making her characters both sympathetic and realistic. 

I struggle to find a fault with The Invisible Bridge.  The critics loved this book, I loved it, book groups should devour it for years to come, and I only wish the National Book Award judges had granted my clutched-to-my-heart wish that Julie Orringer walk on stage in November to accept her award.  Sigh.

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