AAN ZEE

A NOVEL
 

 

BY

Photo by Udo Helmholz

JOACHIM FRANK

(Columbia University, USA)

A Member of Poets and Writers Directory
2006 Fellow of the American Academy
of Arts and Sciences
2017 Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry

      ISBN:   978-9-403638-12-6  (Europe)
20
21


Cover Art: ISAAC ISRAELS (1865-1934), AAN ZEE
(Scheveningen Museum, Scheveningen, The Netherlands)

 

    ISBN:   978-1-937030-79-7  (USA)
                          
2019

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'Hubert anticipated the trip with excitement.  It was less than three months away.  Europe was this crammed old world of infinite complexity, a coffee house full of strange foreign voices, full of dissonances, yet, oddly enough, a house where everybody knew his place.  In the center of it was the piece of Germany that had been his home, surrounded by well-wishing yet suspicious neighbors.  It was still possible to get a rude welcome when speaking German in Holland, and in a way Hubert felt that by speaking English he'd enter that country in a masquerade, a wolf in a sheep's clothing, and thereby avoid the unpleasantness stirred up by the past.  But he had been less than two years old when the Germans had invaded the Netherlands, and it would be easy to explain that underneath his clothing there was yet another lamb. Because there was the other Europe of hope, the increasingly happy intermingling of voices, the sophisticated fabric of urban civilization.  There was even the newly relaxed demeanor of custom officers -- traditionally the barking phalanx of national pride.  It was this new land he couldn't wait to see again.  But there was also the thrill of traveling, of chance encounters, of new possibilities to redefine his life.  He watched himself in the mirror for promises that might be written on his face: Intellectual depth?  Affection?  Sophistication in love-making?  Those were all qualities he claimed to possess.  Or was it a face that would cause its bearer to be dismissed as superficial, uninviting, boring, just because of mistakes in the mechanisms of countenance?  He tried out some of his facial muscles and immediately disapproved of what he saw: a strange succession of grins.'

 

 

 

     Aan Zee is about the tragic-comic search of a man for his identity between two cultures. It is a modern Bildungsroman, in the sense that the heroe searches for a purpose and is transformed in the process. Hubert Belovski, a German-born scientist now living in the United States of America, is confronted with his past in the shape of a former girlfriend, as he goes to Scheveningen in the Netherlands, following an invitation to speak at a Conference on Fluid Dynamics. Aan Zee is the name of his hotel, which has seen better days. After a brief rekindling of passion, he is left feeling more alone than before. On his ways to his aunt in Austria, he is struck by a viral flu that leaves him immobilized and in her care for months, enough time to reflect on his life. He finally recovers and, in Rip van Winkle fashion, returns into a world that has moved on.  

   

'A perhaps apocryphal story has it that Werner Heisenberg, the physicist, once said,  “When I meet God, I’m going to ask him two questions: why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he’ll have an answer for the first.”  Joachim Frank’s Aan Zee may not answer the second question fully but nonetheless is a gloriously readable, witty, engaging, entertaining, and, ultimately, deeply philosophical novel, whose underlying rhythms inform both a narratology of turbulence and a— not of course surprising in a Nobel laureate— sophisticated sense of the mystery of how seemingly linear flow spawns chaotic whirls both in our lives and in nature alike.

I especially loved the tour de force of turbulence of the chapter that describes a phantasmagoric railway journey to Innsbruck, wherein the protagonist Hubert, like Wallace Stevens' “Ludwig Richter, turbulent Schlemihl/ Has lost the whole in which he was contained.”   The ensuing flood of “strange days indeed,” to use John Lennon’s phrase, leave a reader vertiginously caught up in what in Finnegans Wake James Joyce wrote of as the "tubular jurbulance at a bull's run over the assback bridge" before dropping the reader, dazed and satisfied, back on (at least momentarily) dry land.'

                                                                                                                                        Dr. Michael Joyce,
                                                                                                                Professor Emeritus of English, Vassar College

 

   

"The things that most interest me about this novel are two: first, a remarkably complex, rich and nuanced portrayal of the scientist. There are hardly any literary novels that give such full-blooded portrayals of scientists; science fiction novels have battalions of them but they don’t interest me much, with a few exceptions. In that sense, this is your novel’s real accomplishment. The scientist’s descriptions of things he sees and experiences and the ruminations of his mind are strikingly precise and vivid.

 

Second, the language used throughout the narrative has a certain poetic elegance about it; I guess you have a poetic sensibility that marks the writing every step of the way. Normally, as I see it, scientific precision and poetic elegance do not go hand-in-hand, except in really exceptional cases.

 

Besides these two remarkable qualities, I enjoyed the ironic undertone that you are able to employ with great ease. I could cite many examples of this. The chapter 26, with Helga’s deadbeat of a letter, and Aunt Frieda’s anger in a later chapter are among the many dramatic moments that make one want to keep on reading the novel. The description of the hotel is powerful in its dark gothic strangeness.

 

The novel is indeed an interesting Bildungsroman, a transatlantic literary work that explores/dramatizes the workings of a scientist’s consciousness in its dealings with both its innate intellectual tendencies and its interests in mundane, worldly passions and desires."


 
                                                                                                                                        Dr. Suresh Sumnath Raval,
                                                                                                              Professor of English, University of Arizona

 

   
"I enjoyed Joachim Frank's book, Aan Zee, thoroughly.  I marveled at his witty and well-observed touches of description, such as at the breakfast room: 'The conversations sounded subdued, as though the guests were afraid to have their breakfast taken away.'  Vivid.  And the dramatic flair of many scenes: I found the one with Hubert at the nudist colony, and Hubert's dialogue with Krantz particularly memorable."

 
                                                      Ricardo Nirenberg, Editor, 
                                                   
Offcourse Literary Journal

 

   
                       "I've enormously enjoyed reading Joachim Frank's novel and felt deeply engrossed. Hubert's intensity of his observation; of landscapes, other
                              characters, of his doubts, memories, and dreams are convincing and whole. It is one of the things in Frank's book that I enjoyed the most.
                                     His utter candor is apt to appear and surprise the reader at any moment. Hubert feels things deeply and describes them in such
                                        fantastic detail, it was compelling to follow his journey. The novel includes visual and tactile sensibilities, a richness that is
                                                    wonderful. In the midst of his tribulations there is hopefulness, optimism and generosity."

 
                                                                                                                                                 Ellen Kozak, artist,
                                                                                                                                                        New York

 

   

Resultado de imagen para joachim frank
JOACHIM FRANK AND HIS WIFE CAROL SAGINAW JOACHIM FRANK, A 2017 NOBEL PRIZE WINNER

JOACHIM FRANK WITH PULITZER PRIZE WINNER IRON WEED
 AUTHOR WILLIAM KENNEDY AND HIS WIFE IN 2018

On his way to one conference in Vermont, Joachim Frank passed through forests. He would never see the same way again. He saw deep into nature, and felt the essence of his life's work.

'All the sudden it occurred to me that in every single cell, leaf and tree the ribosomes are rotating. It was a mind-boggling experience.'
                                                                                            

Heather Bellow, 'Nobel winner Joachim Frank, a part-time Alford resident, peers deep into life's machinery,' The Berkshire Eagle (December 9, 2017). 

JOACHIM FRANK HOLDING A THREE-DIMENSIONAL MODEL OF THE RIBOSOME,
A BIOMOLECULE HE HAS STUDIED WITH THE ELECTRON MICROSCOPE
Resultado de imagen para joachim frank

Joachim Frank is a scientist and a writer living in New York. He has published a number of prose poems and short stories. His creative work has been published in literary and travel journals. He is the author of two other still unpublished novels, Narcis and The Observatory. He is a Professor at Columbia University, USA. In 2017 he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Jacques Dubochet and Richard Henderson.

    

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