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An Exquisite Sense of What Is Beautiful

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An eminent British writer returns to the resort hotel in the Japanese mountains where he once spent a beautiful, snowed-in winter. It was there he fell in love and wrote his best-selling novel, The Waterwheel, accusing America of being in denial about the horrific aftermath of the Tokyo firebombings and the nuclear destruction at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As we learn more about his earlier life, however – as a student in Bloomsbury, involved with a famous American painter – we realise that he too is in denial, trying to escape past events that are now rapidly catching up with him. A sweeping novel of East and West, love and war, truths and denials.

REVIEWS OF An Exquisite Sense of What Is Beautiful

'In the tradition of Graham Greene or William Boyd, taking in great sweeps of history without ever losing sight of the personal, the telling detail. Accomplished and compelling.' - Chris Dolan

'An Exquisite Sense of What is Beautiful is actually several love stories, seamlessly flitting between times, countries and historical events. (I'm sure I won't be the only one to say this, but) the prose is exquisite and beautiful. And while the main character is neither, you find yourself knowing him, understanding him, caring for him. A great read. A piece of art.' - Helen Fitzgerald

"Artistic, literary and thoroughly involving... a novelist who understands the craft of writing and who, in this case, has applied it exquisitely." - Scots Whay Hae! Read more

'[T]hat rare thing, a genuine tour-de-force, a beautifully written love story that combines political impetus, questions about art and truth, and an exotic setting once almost blown to extinction in an act of war. It is the kind of sophisticated, grown-up writing that properly intrigues, and calls to mind the best of William Boyd and Sebastian Faulks.' - Lesley McDowell

'A beautifully sensitive book portraying the inevitably damning inequalities that can arise within all human relationships, be they political, cultural, sexual or emotional. Insightful and thought-provoking.' - Sara Allerton


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  • Rights: UK, IE, AU, NZ, ZA = Exclusive
  • BIC code(s): FA
  • BISAC code(s): FIC019000

About the author

J. David Simons

J. David Simons is Scotland’s pre-eminent Jewish writer. He lived on a kibbutz in Israel in the ’70s and is the author of four novels, short stories and essays. The Credit Draper was shortlisted for the McKitterick Prize and he has received bursaries and writing fellowships from three prestigious organisations.