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Tigor Hardcover – July 17, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Jungk spent his childhood partly in Europe and partly in the U.S., and he draws on that binationalism in his latest novel about an Italian-born mathematics professor teaching in Philadelphia. During a conference in his native Trieste, Giacopo Tigor sees his pet theory of a Euclidean snowflake constant collapse when challenged by advocates of chaos theory. His ego and professional standing in ruins, Tigor abandons his obligations to embark on a quixotic and often reckless odyssey bent on restoring meaning to his life. First he lives off the land in an Italian forest, and then he returns to Paris to fulfill a boyhood dream of working as a stagehand at the Odeon theater. There he has an epiphanous vision of Mount Ararat, so he packs his bags for the East, where he hopes to find the remains of Noah's Ark. Jungk's addled, restless professor is a vivid, original creation whose antics will sustain readers through the often meandering, though always engaging, narrative. Carl Hays
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

Providence Journal 2004, Tom D'Evelyn

Peter Stephan Jungk's new book works two ways: as a fable of a postmodern type of intellectual and as a novel of the picaresque variety.

The hero reflects Jungk's own multicultural background: born in California and raised in Europe. His eponymous hero, Giacopo Tigor, was born in Trieste and is a professor of mathematics in Philadelphia. Or was until he suffered a crisis: Attending a conference, he is confronted by the absurdity of his pet mathematical theory.

As his world implodes, Tigor begins an odyssey of Homeric variety but upside down: as he reaches the end, he is even farther away from happiness. He is marked by a suggestibility that reminds one of Don Quixote -- with this crucial difference: Tigor is yet immune to the charms of literature. Among the authors he is unfamiliar with, we are told, are Cervantes, Yeats and Dostoevksy, each a student of what ails him.

Tigor begins his odyssey by living off the land in an Italian forest. When he nearly starves to death, he moves to Paris where he fulfills a childhood dream of working as a stagehand in a theater.

This move would seem to be progress of a kind - working in the "heaven" of ropes that govern scene shifts. But this childhood dream gives way to a deeper crisis: his decision, made by default, to search Mount Ararat for remains of the biblical ark, brings him face to face with an overwhelming variety of follies, including the kind now classified as terrorism.

During his wanderings, Tigor experiences many epiphanies of bad but durable ideas: for example, at a dance, he is the target of the affections of a spherical woman (a parody of the myth of love in Plato's Phaedrus).

But there is nothing abstract about the texture of this novel of ideas: the rendering of the variegated surface of Tigor's marvelous life has a Flaubertian gloss. The final episode comprises an explosive mix of satire, sentiment, and a kind of bitter grandeur that strikes the reader as an epiphany of the Age of Terror.

Tigor must be reread for it to give up all its secrets, and the density of the fabric may seem heavy to some readers. But for those willing and able to suspend disbelief, Tigor has that lightness that marks it as a certain kind of masterpiece.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press (July 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590511182
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590511183
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,022,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Franklin Freeman on August 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is the kind of novel that leaves you with a full feeling, the feeling that you don't want to read another for a while because you will be still thinking about this one, still living through the experience it has been to read it. An experience of the life of a mathematical genius of the Euclidean variety whose world crumbles when his theories about order in the universe (as shown in the snowflake constant) are shattered by a new theory of chaos. Tigor gives up his academic career and embarks on a mystical quest that is at the same time a quest for the home he never had. It ends on Mt. Ararat in a search for Noah's ark. Along the way Tigor works in a theater in Paris and teaches school in Armenia. Jungk's novel is influenced by Franz Werfel (of whom he wrote a great biography) and Beckett, but he writes in a style all his own. It's not always easy to read because life is not always easily lived, but it is a beautiful full book.
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