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WHAT IS VISIBLE by Kimberly Elkins

WHAT IS VISIBLE by Kimberly Elkins


Paperback now on sale.

Laura Bridgman was the first deaf and blind person to learn language — fifty years before Helen Keller. Laura also couldn’t taste or smell; she lost all senses but touch from a bout with scarlet fever at age two. Not since The Diving Bell and the Butterfly has a book so illuminated the challenges of living in a completely unique inner world. More >>

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“WHAT IS VISIBLE contemplates the bare requisites of being human, more fundamentally than most meditations on haves and have-nots… A novel’s extraordinary power is to allow a reader to take possession of the inner life of another. This one provides entrĂ©e to a nearly unthinkable life, and while no one would want to live there, it’s a fascinating place to visit.”
—Barbara Kingsolver, New York Times Book Review

“The best historical fiction offers readers a new look at a well-known subject, or illuminates an episode or individual that has been lost to history. Playwright Kimberly Elkins achieves the latter in WHAT IS VISIBLE, a strikingly original debut novel.”
BookPage Fiction Top Pick, June 2014

“An engrossing and moving read.”
Woman’s Day (A “Best Book of 2014”)

“An affecting portrait which finally provides its idiosyncratic heroine with a worthy voice.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Told in alternating chapters by Laura, Howe, his poet wife, and Laura’s beloved teacher, this is a complex, multilayered portrait of a woman who longed to communicate and to love and be loved. Elkins fully captures her difficult nature and her relentless pursuit of connection.”
Booklist

“A wonderfully imaginative and scrupulously researched debut novel… [The protagonist] comes across as a willful, mysterious marvel, showing ‘how little one can possess of what we think it means to be human while still possessing full humanity.’”
Publishers Weekly (STARRED)

“An astonishing debut that vividly brings to life a forgotten chapter of American history. You’ll recognize many of the characters in WHAT IS VISIBLE, but its heroine, Laura Bridgman, is likely someone you’ve never heard of. After you read it, you’ll never forget her. Beautiful, heart-wrenching, and at times quite funny, this book is a marvel.”
—J. Courtney Sullivan, New York Times bestselling author of Maine and The Engagements

“WHAT IS VISIBLE illustrates the art of fiction at its best. It is remarkable for its intelligent, intricate style, populated with many true historical figures, and teeming with convincing period details. A splendid debut indeed.”
—Ha Jin, National Book Award winner for Waiting

“WHAT IS VISIBLE is not only a compelling, deeply moving novel; it is a fully realized work of art. This is an auspicious debut of an important new writer.”
—Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

“I found myself slowly mesmerized by WHAT IS VISIBLE, and then increasingly haunted and bound to the story of Laura Bridgman, the second, deeper, darker invisibility of her life so permanently excavated and restored to memory by the talented hand of Kimberly Elkins and her extraordinary powers of imagination. To say that I was profoundly moved by this novel would be an understatement.”
—Bob Shacochis, author of The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize