Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen
A Novel

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When Dr. Leo Liebenstein's wife disappears, she leaves behind a single, confounding clue: a woman who looks, talks, and behaves exactly like her--or almost exactly like her--and even audaciously claims to be her. While everyone else is fooled by this imposter, Leo knows better than to trust his senses in matters of the heart. Certain that the original Rema is alive and in hiding, Leo embarks 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 the mystery of the spousal switch. His investigation leads him to the enigmatic guidance of the meteorologist Dr. Tzvi Gal-Chen, the secret workings of the Royal Academy of Meteorology in their cosmic conflict with the 49 Quantum Fathers, and the unwelcome conviction that somehow he--or maybe his wife, or maybe even Harvey--lies at the center of all these unfathomables. From the streets of New York to the southernmost reaches of Patagonia, Leo's erratic quest becomes a test of how far he is willing to take his struggle against the seemingly uncontestable truth he knows in his heart 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. With tremendous compassion and dazzling literary sophistication, Rivka Galchen investigates the moment of crisis when you suddenly realize that the reality you insist upon is no longer one you can accept, and the person you love has become merely the person you live with. This highly inventive debut explores the mysterious nature of human relationships, and how we spend our lives trying to weather the storms of our own making.


About Rivka Galchen

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Rivka Galchen recieved her MD from the Mount Sinai Shool of Medicine, having spent a year in South America working on public health issues. Galchen recently completed her MFA at Columbia University, where she was a Robert Bingham Fellow. Her essay on the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics was published in The Believer, and she is the recipient of a 2006 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. Galchen lives in New York City. This is her first novel.
Published May 27, 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 260 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Leo’s paranoid suspicions seem no more bizarre than the claims of another missing person: his delusional patient Harvey, who insists he is “employed as a secret agent for the Royal Academy of Meteorology,” assigned to control the weather and to foil the nefarious 49 Quantum Fathers, whose experim...

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The New York Times

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Rema teases Leo for the attention he pays to clothes, while Leo mocks his mother’s “excessive aesthetic sensitivity” even as he tries to dictate the color, fabric and buttons of a new coat for a Rema clone in Patagonia.

Jul 13 2008 | Read Full Review of Atmospheric Disturbances: A N...

The Guardian

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'Same everything,' he notes, 'but it wasn't Rema.' Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen Buy it from the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop ...

Oct 05 2008 | Read Full Review of Atmospheric Disturbances: A N...

Book Reporter

Rema persuades Leo to humor Harvey's delusion by posing as a secret agent himself, one who is in contact with Academy meteorologist Tzvi Gal-Chen, a real figure who comes to hold great significance within Leo's life, as well as Harvey's.

Dec 22 2010 | Read Full Review of Atmospheric Disturbances: A N...

Tampa Bay Times

Only now Harvey's gone, Rema's gone — and Leo must find them both or surrender to chaos.

Nov 01 2010 | Read Full Review of Atmospheric Disturbances: A N...

In Atmospheric Disturbances, Rivka Galchen's debut novel, psychiatrist Dr. Leo Liebenstein is firmly under the suspicion that his young Argentinian wife Rema has disappeared and been replaced by a sumulacrum, a copy that looks and sounds like Rema but in vaguely distinguishable aspects is certain...

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Farrar, Straus & Giroux Rivka Galchen's family, circa 1977, when she was a toddler in her mother's lap.

Aug 29 2008 | Read Full Review of Atmospheric Disturbances: A N...

Book Forum

But Liebenstein is most heartbreaking not in his ceaseless, involuted motion, but in the small, still moment when, on eating too many butter cookies, he looks at the kitchen ceiling and notices, uncomfortably, that “the shapes that normally morph and merge out upon the random pattern of such a ce...

Jul 25 2014 | Read Full Review of Atmospheric Disturbances: A N...

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