cover image The Invention of Ana

The Invention of Ana

Mikkel Rosengaard. Custom House, $25.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-267907-9

The spirit of Scheherazade is alive and well in Rosengaard’s debut novel about a woman named Ana Ivan, a survivor of Ceausescu’s Romania, who meets the unnamed Danish narrator on a Brooklyn rooftop and immediately launches into a story from her past. Right from the start, Ana captivates him with remarks about how she can travel in time or, as a child, was dead for two minutes, or how she is done with men. The narrator, it turns out, is a would-be writer, and Ana wants to use him to tell her stories, which, among other things, involve the suicide of her mathematician father and her investigation into his past to find out why he killed himself. The narrator’s Danish girlfriend, Laerke, arrives for a visit, but is surprised to find that he is distracted by Ana. The story culminates with Ana’s unusual art project, Timemachine, which the narrator becomes a part of. Ana makes for a maddening and beguiling presence throughout, as the author charts the emotional distance between Bucharest under Ceausescu’s despotic rule and present-day hipster Brooklyn, resulting in a striking, auspicious debut. (Feb.)