When We Cease to Understand the World is a book about the complicated links between scientific and mathematical discovery, madness, and destruction. Fritz Haber, Alexander Grothendieck, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger—these are some of the luminaries into whose troubled lives Benjamín Labatut thrusts the listener, showing us how they grappled with the most profound questions of existence. They have strokes of unparalleled genius, alienate friends and lovers, descend into isolation and insanity. Some of their discoveries reshape human life for the better; others pave the way to chaos and unimaginable suffering. The lines are never clear. At a breakneck pace and with a wealth of disturbing detail, Labatut uses the imaginative resources of fiction to tell the stories of the scientists and mathematicians who expanded our notions of the possible.
Adam Barr is a recovering lawyer, a twenty-five-year veteran of the golf industry, and an actor and a singer with a lifelong love of books and reading. An English major in college, he continued his education by studying with audiobook and voiceover veterans such as Johnny Heller, Steven Jay Cohen, and Tom Dheere. He currently resides with his wife and their Goldendoodle in New York City.
Adrian Nathan West is a novelist, essayist, and translator living in Spain. His criticism has appeared in the London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, and many other publications. He has translated books from German, Catalan, and Spanish, including Jean Améry’s Charles Bovary, Country Doctor (NYRB Classics), and Pere Gimferrer (NYRB Poets).