Pascal Mercier (Author)


Pascal Mercier's Night Train to Lisbon mesmerized readers around the world, and went on to become an international bestseller, establishing Mercier as a breakthrough European literary talent. Now, in Lea, he returns with a tender, impassioned, and unforgettable story of a father's love and a daughter's ambition in the wake of devastating tragedy.

It all starts with the death of Martijn van Vliet's wife. His grief-stricken young daughter, Lea, cuts herself off from the world, lost in the darkness of grief. Then she hears the unfamiliar sound of a violin playing in the hall of a train station, and she is brought back to life. Transfixed by a busker playing Bach, Lea emerges from her mourning, vowing to learn the instrument. And her father, witnessing this delicate spark, promises to do everything and anything in his power to keep her happy.

Lea grows into an extraordinary musical talent--her all-consuming passion leads her to become one of the finest players in the country--but as her fame blossoms, her relationship with her father withers. Unable to keep her close, he inadvertently pushes Lea deeper and deeper into this newfound independence and, desperate to hold on to his daughter, Martin is driven to commit an act that threatens to destroy them both.

A revelatory portrait of genius and madness, Lea delves into the demands of artistic excellence as well as the damaging power of jealousy and sacrifice. Mercier has crafted a novel of intense clarity, illuminating the poignant ways we strive to understand ourselves and our families.

Product Details

$25.00  $23.00
Grove Press
Publish Date
September 12, 2017
5.8 X 1.3 X 8.4 inches | 0.9 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

A professor of philosophy, Pascal Mercier was born in 1944 in Bern, Switzerland. He is the author of numerous novels including the bestselling Night Train to Lisbon and Perlmann's Silence. He was awarded the Marie Luise Kaschnitz Prize, the Grinzane Cavour Prize, and he received the Lichtenberg Medal. He lives in Berlin, Germany.


Praise for Lea

A New York Times Book Review Paperback Row Selection

"[A] tale of grief, fraud, guilt and madness . . . Revelatory."--New York Times Book Review

"[Mercier] brings to life the worlds of people who possess a single-minded focus on the perfection of an idea, a phrase, a game or a note . . . Like his previous novel, Night Train to Lisbon, Lea is full of searing images."--NPR

"A psychologically astute portrait of a damaged family . . . For fans of Ian McEwan and Julian Barnes."--Booklist

"An intense character study that poses significant questions regarding affection and fixation, and the cost each exacts."--Washington Independent Review of Books

"A passionate tale of finding comfort in the wake of tragedy."--World Literature Today

"A novella about an artist's development . . . genius and madness, love and betrayal, fury and self-destruction, all carefully arranged to make a stunning portrait."--Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

"Perfectly constructed, exciting, entertaining, enigmatic, memorable."--Buchkultur

"Although the characters' feelings become ever more complex and their actions less and less logical, the story itself never feels over-complicated or illogical, let alone sentimental. The frightening depths of the characters' emotions are crossed by a kind of suspension bridge built by the author."--Neue Z├╝rcher Zeitung

Praise for Night Train to Lisbon

"Rich, dense, star-spangled . . . The novels of Robert Stone come to mind, and Elias Canetti's Auto-da-Fe, and Thomas Mann's Death in Venice, and Kobo Abe's The Ruined Map, not to mention Marcus Aurelius and Wittgenstein . . . [but] what Night Train to Lisbon really suggests is Roads to Freedom, Jean-Paul Sartre's breathless trilogy about identity-making." --Harper's magazine

"Celebrates the beauty and allure of language . . . adroitly addresses concepts of sacrifice, secrets, memory, loneliness, infatuation, tyranny, and translation. It highlights how little we know about others." --Chicago Sun-Times

"The text of Amadeu's writing is filled not with mere nuggets of wisdom but with a mother lode of insight, introspection, and an honest, self-conscious person's illuminations of all the dark corners of his own soul." --Seattle Times

"Dreamlike . . . A meditative, deliberate exploration of loneliness, language and the human condition . . . rewards readers with the generous gift of beautiful writing and some unforgettable images." --San Diego Union-Tribune

"A smart, heartfelt, thoroughly enjoyable book written for thinking adults, and the most recent incarnation, from Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf right down to Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind, of that potent, ever-popular myth--the book that changes your life." --Shelf Awareness

"A compelling blend of suspenseful narrative and discursive commentary . . . an intriguing fiction." --Kirkus Reviews

"A meditative novel that builds an uncanny power through a labyrinth of memories and philosophical concepts that illuminate the narrative from within . . . a remarkable immediacy that makes for a rare reading pleasure." --San Francisco Chronicle

Praise for Perlmann's Silence

"Absorbing . . . [Mercier] understands the soft sniping that sustains academic rivalries and draws wry comedy from them." --New Yorker

"An engrossing deep study of one man's mind. Superb." --Evening Standard

"What might have been, in less talented hands, an amusing literary thriller is, in Mercier's prose, superbly translated by Shaun Whiteside, something far more complex . . . Mercier's previous novel to be published here, the deservedly popular Night Train to Lisbon, showed great intelligence and story-telling power; Perlmann's Silence is a bolder attempt, and reaches greater depths." --Alberto Manguel, The Guardian (UK)

"Mercier has a flair for vivid characterization, and has created a personality-rich tapestry of human interaction . . . A hearty feast for the thinking reader . . . an utterly satisfying emotional rollercoaster." --Nick DiMartino, Shelf Awareness

"For readers of a philosophical bent, appreciative of slowly unfolding, elegant tales, this will be a pleasure." --Kirkus Reviews