** This event is sold out! We may have space for walk-ins at 7:15 on the day of. We'll release no-show seats on a first come / first served basis. **
Booksmith is thrilled to host the launch event for New Yorker cartoonist Amy Kurzweil and her graphic memoir, Artificial. She will be in conversation with Daniel Gumbiner, author of The Boatbuilder and the forthcoming Fire in the Canyon. Join us!
About the book
How do we relate to—and hold—our family’s past? Is it through technology? Through spirit? Art, poetry, music? Or is it through the resonances we look for in ourselves?
In Artificial, we meet the Kurzweils, a family of creators who are preserving their history through unusual means. At the center is renowned inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil, who has long been saving the documents of his deceased father, Fredric, an accomplished conductor and pianist from Vienna who fled the Nazis in 1938.
Once, Fred’s life was saved by his art: an American benefactor, impressed by Fred’s musical genius, sponsored his emigration to the United States. He escaped just one month before Kristallnacht.
Now, Fred has returned. Through AI and salvaged writing, Ray is building a chatbot that writes in Fred’s voice, and he enlists his daughter, cartoonist Amy Kurzweil, to help him ensure the immortality of their family’s fraught inheritance.
Amy’s deepening understanding of her family’s traumatic uprooting resonates with the creative life she fights to claim in the present, as Amy and her partner, Jacob, chase jobs, and each other, across the country. Kurzweil evokes an understanding of accomplishment that centers conversation and connection, knowing and being known by others.
With Kurzweil’s signature humanity and humor, in boundary-pushing, gorgeous handmade drawings, Artificial guides us through nuanced questions about art, memory, and technology, demonstrating that love, a process of focused attention, is what grounds a meaningful life.
Praise for Artificial
"Intimate reflections and powerful visual elements combine in an exemplary work of graphic nonfiction." – Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Kurzweil's extraordinary graphic memoir is a story about memory, family, immortality, artificial intelligence, love and consciousness itself. Far-reaching and fascinating." – Roz Chast, New Yorker cartoonist
"Powerful, tender, and complex, Kurzweil's Artificial: A Love Story strikes all the chords. In her drawings, she visualizes the vivid simultaneous perceptions that go into consciousness in a way that feels strikingly accurate. In the story, she pushes past the blank wall one usually hits when trying to fathom death—and plainly asks the questions we wish, more than anything, we could answer." – Liana Finck, author of Let There Be Light
"Hilarious, heady, and full of feeling, Artificial tells the history of an exceptionally compelling family—a conductor grandfather, a futurist father, an artist daughter and granddaughter—through the lens of technology, art, and memory. Amy Kurzweil draws her way through big questions (What is genius? What is love?) with so much open-hearted wisdom that I wanted to follow her right off the page. It’s a rare artist who can so eloquently move between the personal and the metaphysical: This book is beautiful, strange, and belongs on your bookshelf forever." – Kristen Radtke, author of Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness
"With her masterful counterbalancing of intricacy and simplicity, repetition and surprise, subtle detail and stark contrast, Kurzweil is at the peak of her powers as a cartoonist. Artificial is a poignant record of a daughter’s clear-eyed devotion to her quixotic genius of a father, of her finding true love despite everything, and of the sources of her own quirky gift for conquering time and space with nothing more than paper, pencil and ink. I absolutely adored this book." – Michael Chabon, author of Moonglow
About the authors
Amy Kurzweil is a New Yorker cartoonist and the author of Flying Couch: A Graphic Memoir. She was a 2021 Berlin Prize Fellow with the American Academy in Berlin, a 2019 Shearing Fellow with the Black Mountain Institute, and has received fellowships from MacDowell, Djerassi, and elsewhere. She has been nominated for a Reuben Award and an Ignatz Award for “Technofeelia,” her four part series with The Believer Magazine. Her writing, comics, and cartoons have also been published in The Verge, The New York Times Book Review, Longreads, Literary Hub, WIRED and many other places. Kurzweil has taught widely for over a decade. See her website (amykurzweil.com) to take a class with her.
Daniel Gumbiner’s first book, The Boatbuilder, was nominated for the National Book Award and a finalist for the California Book Awards. His next novel, Fire in the Canyon, is forthcoming from Astra House in Fall 2023. He is the Editor of The Believer and a 2022-23 Hermitage Fellow. He lives in Oakland, CA. Photo by Mark Davis.
In the event of cancellation, you will be refunded the price of your ticket within 4 business days.