In paperback September 14th, 2010.
Born in the shadow of post-war Germany, Danzig is a once prominent painter who now teaches at an art institute in San Francisco. But while Danzig shares wisdom and technique with students, his own canvasses remain empty, for reasons he doesn’t understand. One day, he and his class begin sketching a new model, a young woman named Merav, the Israeli-born granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor and herself a former art student. Danzig is immediately taken with her exceptional beauty, sensing that she may be the muse he has been missing. Challenged by Danzig’s German accent, Merav must decide how to overcome her fears. Before they can create anything new together, both artist and model are forced to examine the history that they carry.
Blue Nude recounts the events that bring Danzig and Merav together, including their disparate upbringings, their respective creative awakenings, and their similarly painful, often catastrophic, love lives. Using words to paint the landscapes of body and soul, Rosner conveys the art of survival, the complexity of history, the form of exile, the shape of desire, and the color of intimacy. Blue Nude is the narrative equivalent of a masterpiece of fine art.
Critical Praise for Blue Nude:
Poet and novelist Rosner (The Speed of Light) has written an elegiac story of an emotionally and creatively starved artist and his muse. Danzig is 58, a German painter whose once promising career has stagnated into teaching life drawing classes at San Francisco’s Art Institute. Then Merav appaears, a lovely Israeli woman, also an artist, who models in his classroom. Merav struggles with instinctual distrust of Danzig: “The poses she took in the first session were all in the shape of fear: a woman turning away from something threatening; a body in flight; the curled-up shape of self-defense, protecting the heart, the belly.” When Danzig asks Merav if she will model for him privately, she’s reluctant, but their relationship evolves. The present diverges to the past, and Rosner develops her protagonists as though they are pieces of art, slowly becoming unveiled. Although their backgrounds are divergent—Danzig lived in fear of his father while Merav grew up in the safety of a kibbutz without one—their interior lives are similar. Rosner’s multilayered composition is rendered in beautiful, spare prose and will resonate long after the last page.
- Publishers Weekly
"We watch, spellbound, as the story seems to levitate midair, as the characters seamlessly unfold a plot that is no less than fascinating. Using the rhythms of poetry, Elizabeth Rosner has created a lyrical tour de force."
- Linda Gray Sexton, author of "Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide."
Rosner has a painter's eye and a poet's ear. BLUE NUDE is a luminous book about painful histories -- both private and global -- and how they stay with us even as they travel through to become something else - quite possibly art. A book both heady and tangible, both unflinching and generous, but always beautiful to read.
- Karen Joy Fowler, author of NY Times Bestseller The Jane Austen Book Club.
Through German artist, Danzig, and Israeli muse, Merav, Elizabeth Rosner builds a bridge from loss to reconciliation, from anger to understanding. Blue Nude is a lyrical exploration of how we -- as individuals and as a society -- move past our separate histories and toward a shared redemption. This is truly a lovely book.
- Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters
“Blue Nude is a novel which spans time and continents, from post war Germany to California
to Israeli kibbutzim, a novel which explores the big questions of history, fate, art, how we
choose to live the lives we’re given–and yet it’s also wonderfully intimate as well in its exploration
of the hearts of its individual characters. Elizabeth Rosner has written a thought provoking,
moving and original book.”
- Dan Chaon,
author of You Remind Me of Me
“Rosner takes on complexity with a brilliant poet’s insistence that the body can never
surrender cultural legacy. Blue Nude is easy to pick up and, in its suspense, hard to put down.
Its sensitivity to detail acts as a love letter to the world.”
- Edie Meidav,
author of Crawl Space
“What I like especially about Elizabeth Rosner’s Blue Nude is its patience and careful pace,
both utterly appropriate to a story of troubled reconciliation. In its insistence that sweetness (honeyed, not saccharine) can come out of violence, Blue Nude resembles the astonishing Israeli
film Walk on Water which also takes on the contemporary legacy of German-Jewish relations.
It helps that Ms. Rosner has a poet’s eye and an enviable ability to allow both her lapidary
sentences and her deeply complex characters space to breathe.”
- Jonathan Wilson