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Man Walks Into a Room

3.3  ·  Rating Details ·  5,214 Ratings  ·  554 Reviews
A luminous and unforgettable first novel by an astonishing new voice in fiction, hailed by Esquire magazine as one of America s best young writers.
Samson Greene, a young and popular professor at Columbia, is found wandering in the Nevada desert. When his wife, Anna, comes to bring him home, she finds a man who remembers nothing, not even his own name. The removal of a sma
Paperback, 248 pages
Published November 11th 2003 by Anchor Books (first published 2002)
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An Authentic Derivative by Caleb CoyMisconception by Ryan BoudinotImperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton EllisThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot DíazMan Walks Into a Room by Nicole Krauss
Bad / overrated Hipster Literature
5th out of 30 books — 8 voters
Jane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëThe Silver Chair by C.S. LewisA Room of One's Own by Virginia WoolfThe Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di LampedusaExistentialism Is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre
Chairs on Covers
106th out of 150 books — 39 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Ian "Marvin" Graye
Sep 26, 2014 Ian "Marvin" Graye rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviews, read-2011, krauss
A Reader Walks into a Room

I bought "Man" after loving "The History of Love".

I don't think I realised until I started reading it that "Man" was her first novel.

There were times when I could understand why other readers might be tempted to give it up.

I persisted out of loyalty to "History" and out of a sense of anticipation for "Great House".

Little did I realise that it would (almost) have me in tears at the end.

Where Did My Character Go?

"Man" is not a novel of action.

Yet I don't think it's quite
Violet wells
Samson Greene, an English professor at Columbia, is found wandering alone in Nevada desert. Turns out he has suffered severe memory loss because of a brain tumour. He can remember nothing but his childhood. After an operation he returns to his wife who is a complete stranger to him. Soon he finds he can relate much better to one of his former young female students as if without memory of experience, experience is utterly erased and he is again a boy attracted, not to women, but to girls. This ...more
May 03, 2008 Jafar rated it it was ok
The book starts off very promising. A man loses 24 years of his memory due to a brain tumor. As the book says, we’re nothing but a collection of habits and accumulation of memories. If we lose those memories and habits, we lose our self and start over with a blank slate. That should make a good concept for a very interesting novel. Instead, the story meanders through a series of irrelevant events and characters and doesn’t offer much in the end.

From the few places where Krauss discusses things l
Sep 17, 2016 Josh rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned, 2016
(1.5) After loving Krauss's "The History of Love", I thought this book would at least be enjoyed half as much, but alas at a little bit over the 100 page mark, I leave this abandoned. Skimming a book for awhile and half-ass remembering what you've read doesn't equate to enjoyment and/or leisure for me. I guess sometimes an author only has one good book in them and it seems Krauss is going in that direction (for now).

This will be taken back to the library, left to sit for awhile among the KRA's
Jan 24, 2009 Tung rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 04, 2008 Tara rated it it was amazing
A fresh, fascinating investigation of classic themes of loneliness and isolation. Her prose is so lyrical and poetic that it takes awhile before you realize that Krauss has broken your heart.
Feb 21, 2009 Amy rated it liked it
Recommended to Amy by: Antof9
I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this book, now that I am through with it. I am convinced that Nicole Krauss is a marvelous writer. Of that, there is no doubt. But I never fully engaged in the story here. Part of that is Samson's fault, though. I don't think he fully engaged in his story either. The ending came abruptly -- a rapid change of pace, with the epilogue in a different character voice which left me disorientated. (Ha! Just a note to add that I, too, find the use of this word ...more
Madeline Knight-Dixon
Apr 08, 2013 Madeline Knight-Dixon rated it it was amazing
The entire premise of this books is that a man wakes up, and has lost the memory of twenty years of his life (he only remembers up to being 12 years old). In itself, not a new concept. However, this book distinguishes itself as a truly unique work of art.

Moments of this book terrified me. Krauss makes this book unique by presenting a man who, after the loss of so much, enjoys the emptiness he’s left with. He allows himself to experience every moment beyond what someone burdened with memories can
Mar 02, 2009 Anda rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
I was going to give this 4 stars but changed my mind at the last few pages. Not that it ended poorly, but I just can't put my finger on it. I loved the writing and the poetic one-liners that Krauss is so good at. But I got the "first novel" vibe from this for sure ... in that she seemed to have SO many good things to write/ideas to share that she just inserted gratuitous paragraphs/plotlines that really did nothing for the story. Nice to read those parts since she writes so beautifully, but ...more
Aug 26, 2016 Gloria rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Achingly poignant and sad. (why do I love books like this...?)
I was going to go with 4 or 4.5 stars, but I know already this will be one that will not leave my mind. Samson will live in there a long, long time.
Allie Chickie
Nov 07, 2014 Allie Chickie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-books
I had to wait a couple days before I tried to write a review for this one. Sometimes I find it really difficult to explain why I loved something so much.

Nicole Krauss has been one of my absolute favorite authors since I first read The History of Love. I quickly thereafter picked up Great House and then just sort of put her on hold for a while I suppose, because I knew she didn't have any new work out and for whatever reason didn't come back to this one, her first novel. I'm wondering if I could
Apr 07, 2008 Zweegas rated it it was ok

So, my reading group virtually voted to kick me out of the group whenever they decided to move our monthly meetings from Thursday to Wednesday. It's okay that I couldn't make it to the most recent meeting because I seem to like this book much less than the other reading group members here on

It starts out with a thirty-something year-old man who has no memories since the age of 12. He has all these years and years of people who remember him and things that happened in his life but h
This was different from The History of Love & The Great House, the other two I have read from her. More science fiction/fantasy. Intriguing, actually. About a man whom enters into a psychology experiment in which he essentially borrows another person's mind....

Krauss illuminates quite ingeniously the idea that we are merely a collection of our memories. Minus them, can one really say whom we are? Delete our history, our memory, we have very little. The protagonist Samson Greene is discovere
Sarah Messick-Milone
Feb 21, 2008 Sarah Messick-Milone rated it it was ok
Shelves: literary-fiction
This book had a very interesting premise: a middle-aged man loses all his memory since he was 12 but still has the sophisticated mind of an adult: how does he cope?

Parts of the novel are very poignant-- mostly the scenes between Samson and his wife and Samson and his great uncle. Other parts really drag and seem caught up in vague ruminations on memory.

All in all, I don't think the book hung together too well and I much prefer her other novel, _A Brief History of Love_. Maybe since I loved that
Antara Basu-Zych
Aug 29, 2012 Antara Basu-Zych rated it it was amazing
This book ranks in my list of favorite books of all time. The story is about a young man, Samson Greene, who seems to have everything -- a beautiful wife, a professorship at Columbia University, a home in NYC, good friends... a near-perfect life. But a strange tumor on his brain causes him to lose his memory -- all except the first 12 of his life. So the book starts with him wandering the desert near Las Vegas, mistaken for a homeless man, discovered by the police. His wife is called and by that ...more
Maggie Campbell
Dec 23, 2007 Maggie Campbell rated it liked it
"She's lovely. Beautiful and kind and what's not to like? but why her and not someone else?"

"That place just beyond everything she knows for sure."

"Who was I? What did I care about? What did I find funny, sad, stupid, painful? Was I happy? All of those memories I accumulated, gone. Which one, if there could have been only one, would I have kept?"

"He knew she liked him but couldn't say why, and now he wondered whether she became so quickly intimate with everyone she stumbled across."

" 'And for a
Laala Alghata
Feb 24, 2010 Laala Alghata rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Nicole Krauss. I read The History of Love mid 2006. I loved it, but for some reason did not hunt for other books the author had written. Perhaps I had a long enough To Read list as it was. Earlier this summer I stumbled upon this book, and after recalling how much I loved the first book of hers I’d read, decided to give her debut a go.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. I read it almost start to finish without putting it down. I put it down just the once, and because I had to. I loved Samson, I love
Mar 30, 2009 Garrett rated it liked it
Favorite excerpt:

"He inched towards her until their sides were touching, arm to arm, leg to bare leg. Sam? she whispered. Do you think--- This was Jollie Lambird, whom he had been in love with since the second grade, and he was ready to answer any question she might have for him. But he didn't hear the rest of it because just then he kissed her, a kiss that may have lasted for hours while porch lights shuddered and went out across the neighborhood. While stars themselves lit up or went out, star
What if a brain tumor causes you to lose all memories of your life after the age of 12? That's what happened to Samson Greene. One day he's an English professor at Columbia University and the next, he's found wandering in the Nevada desert, with no memory of his name, what he's doing in the desert, that he's married, who his friends are, and that his mother's dead.

After the tumor has been removed, Samson has to deal with living in a house he doesn't remember, a wife he doesn't recognize and a li
Feb 10, 2010 Lindsey rated it really liked it
This is the story of Samson Greene, a man who wakes up in a hospital, thousands of miles from home, after being found disoriented and alone in the desert. Initally Samson cannot remember his own name, and as memories slowly creep into his consciousness, he gets hit with the cruel reality that he has lost the past 24 years of his life due to a benign brain tumor in his temporal lobe. Samson's last memory is taken from a 12 year old's perspective and he suddenly finds himself being thrown into an ...more
Grace Viray
Sep 21, 2013 Grace Viray rated it really liked it
Gripping. Touching. Thought provoking.

What if you wake up one day with no memories of the years that have passed? Will you embrace the emptiness, start anew or go searching for answers of those echoes of the past that have shaped you to who you are at the present? Will you hold on to the people around you, who remember you as you have been, or cut them from your life, turn over a new leaf?

Krauss, a very talented writer, capable of stirring into her readers such thoughts and lead them into intros
Feb 03, 2009 Shauna rated it it was ok
I finished The History of Love wanting to read anything else by Nicole Krauss, and picked up Man Walks Into a Room the next day.

This was a much more difficult book for me to get into, and ultimately I never really did. It's a very internal book, which makes sense given that it's about a man who loses several years of memory to a brain tumor. The memory loss affects his feelings towards his wife, as well as his knowledge and ability to practice his profession. In the first half in particular, the
May 03, 2010 Amy rated it really liked it
This book is beautifully written. The book is about a man who has a brain tumor and loses all his memories from ages 12-36. He retains his childhood memories up until age 12 and is able to make new memories but 24 years of his life are just gone. I tried to imagine losing all the moments that make you who are and not only having all these personal events occur and not remember them, but also the events that go on in the world and having no idea what's going on. Losing the happy moments seem to ...more
Dec 23, 2012 Brianna rated it it was amazing
I am a big Nicole Krauss fan. Oddly enough (well, probably because I was only 12 when it was published), I hadn't read her first novel, and this was unacceptable to me. I liked the first half of this novel, but I admittedly wasn't impressed by it, as it seemed to lack the momentum, mystery, and intricacy that "The History of Love" and "Great House" exhibit from the start. And that is probably true; it was her first published book. But the second half of the novel is where all of the ...more
Jun 01, 2011 Patty rated it it was amazing
I once knew an art professor who would buy multiple copies of books he liked. He would put one in his back pocket and when he ran into a friend, whip out the book and give it to his friend. This is that sort of book: I want to buy a few copies and give them out to the people I love.

But don't get me wrong: this is not necessarily a cheery, upbeat book.

I may be peculiar; I am drawn to books about people who have lost their memories. The first book of the Monk series, by Anne Perry, for example. Ma
Joan Winnek
"I've been lonely my whole life. For as long as I can remember, since I was a child. Sometimes being around other people makes it worse. . . . When you're young, you think it's going to be solved by love. But it never is. Being close--as close as you can get--to another person only makes clear the impassable distance between you." [pp. 124-125:]

"His mind had filled with the detritus of recollection, and then, as a final humiliation, it had been broken into and vandalized. . . . no matter how gre
Emily Mack
Jul 23, 2015 Emily Mack rated it it was ok
Shelves: literary-fic, 2015, debuts
I stumbled upon this book at the library when I was (fruitlessly) searching out a copy of The History of Love.

I recently read Krauss' Great House and really enjoyed it -- and I think I'll still give The History of Love a shot whenever I can get my hands on a copy of it. However, I just didn't connect with this book. It is beautifully written (but not quite as beautifully as her latest), but the story itself just didn't pull me in, and I spent way longer than usual dragging my feet to finish tha
Jennifer D.
Jan 04, 2016 Jennifer D. rated it it was amazing
At the age of 36, what do you have left if you have lost all of your memories beyond your 12th year of life?

This is the premise of Krauss's first novel, as she explores the importance of memory to our individual identity, and the lonely freedom that can come after losing them. Her beautiful prose and ability to develop empathetic characters make this book one that resonates long after you close the book.

Haunting and gorgeous.
Salma El-Shafie
Oct 06, 2013 Salma El-Shafie rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written. Enjoyed the fine details of this book and the way the author makes you wonder about how our brains work, and how memories affect the way we think and perceive the world around us.
This is a touching story of a 36 year old English professor, who has a brain tumor -along with memories of the last 24 years of his life- removed forever. he gets contacted to participate in a 'shocking' experiment.

It beautifully shows his journey from how he can't make sense of all the variables a
Erin Quinney
I am conflicted about this book. I really wanted to give it three and a half stars. On one hand, the writing is excellent and the characters engaging. There are some interesting philisophical discussions and endearing comedic interludes. On the other hand, the story has some weak points and I found myself thinkig, "Who cares? Get on with the story!"

While the premise is interesting and the phrasing is very good, there is a sense of aimlessness in the execution. The action starts quickly but star
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Nicole Krauss is the author of the international bestseller The History of Love, which was published by W.W. Norton in 2005. It won the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, France’s Prix du Meilleur Livre Ėtranger, was named #1 book of the year by, and was short-listed for the Orange, Médicis, and Femina prizes. Her first novel, Man Walks Into a Room, was a finalist for the ...more
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“He spoke of human solitude, about the intrinsic loneliness of a sophisticated mind, one that is capable of reason and poetry but which grasps at straws when it comes to understanding another, a mind aware of the impossibility of absolute understanding. The difficulty of having a mind that understands that it will always be misunderstood.” 78 likes
“You fall in love, it's intoxicating, an for a little while you feel like you've actually become one with the other person. Merged souls, and so on. You think you'll never be lonely again. Only it doesn't last and soon you realize you can only get so close and you end up brutally disappointed, more alone than ever, because the illusion-the hope you'd held on to all those years-has been shattered.” 71 likes
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