Listed in the Best Books of 2021 in the New Zealand Listener: “Ingenious meditation on time, memory and decay.”
A memory-impaired time traveller attempts to correct a tragic mistake he made in 1977 when, panicked, he abandoned his brother on a frozen lake in Baltimore. Decades later, in 2011, a novelist researching at the Centre for Time in Sydney becomes romantically involved with a philosopher from New Zealand. A writer at a lake retreat in New Zealand in 2019 obsesses over the disintegration of his marriage following another tragedy. Are they separate stories, or are they one? Is the time traveller actually travelling? Can the past be changed? As the answers to these questions slowly emerge, the lives become entangled in a tale of love, desperation and physics.
“Dazzlingly intelligent and ambitious in scope, Entanglement spans decades and continents, explores the essence of time and delves into topics as complex as quantum physics. But at the heart of Bryan Walpert’s novel is the human psyche and all its intricacies. A writer plagued by two tragedies in his past reflects on where it all went wrong, and his desperation leads him back to Baltimore in 1977. A novel unafraid to ask difficult questions, and a novelist unwilling to patronise his readers.”
—Ockham NZ Book Awards judges 2022
“This is a book that makes you slow down your reading because you don’t want the experience to end. That calls to you when you’re going about your day. That makes you nudge your partner to say, Listen to this. Entanglement is erudite, romantic, deeply moving. I reached the end and turned straight back to page one, entangled.” —Gigi Fenster
“A novel full of two things I can’t stand in fiction—audaciously long sentences and a protagonist who’s a writer —and yet I freaking love this book! Walpert has not only the ear of a poet, but also the ruthlessness of a novelist skilled at unpicking human relationships. Trust me, this story will unfold like a set of dominoes arranged in the shape of your heart.”—Madison Hamill
“It is a book that requires and rewards full and undivided attention: a perfect summertime read for lovers of science and literature who want something a little more substantial than the latest Stephen King.” —Cushla McKinney, Otago Daily Times
“… a beautiful, stylistically adventurous and deeply philosophical work …Walpert has a screenwriter’s eye for foreshadowing and payoff …” —Angelique Kasmara, Academy of New Zealand Literature (read full review here)
“The language is close, streaming, yet often meditative. It evokes mundane moments of the daily world, even as it blooms continually into metaphor and imagery. (Indeed, enter the poet once more.) ‘… memory that flits away like a moth you once tried to capture in a paper cup’ ‘a dog that slams itself against a wire fence’. I do like that ‘slams’. D H Lawrence claimed that the essence of a good novel was its ‘unexpectedness’. He was referring to the author being startled as much as the reader. In Entanglement, you feel that Walpert is frequently intrigued and surprised by his own material. The result is a story that jumps with energy, both emotional and intellectual.”—David Hill, Kete and Stuff (read the full review here)
“I read the first page and was smitten … This is a clever book. It’s about the study of time travel, and redemption, and doesn’t unfold for you easily. We come at the story through different perspectives, all of them quite wonderful.”—Cristina Sanders (read the full review here)
Bryan Walpert is the author of Late Sonata, winner of the 2020 Seizure Viva La Novella Prize, as well as a short story collection, four books of poetry and two of literary criticism. He is a professor in creative writing at Massey University, Auckland.
Photo credit: Michael Krzanich
Cover art for Entanglement is by Catherine English