This very literary novel is based on an obscure incident in the life of renown photographer Philippe Halsmann. In 1928, Halsmann was falsely accused and tried for the murder of his father. The incident, then known as the "Austrian Dreyfus Affair" revealed a rampant Antisemitism which was only starting to boil into the rise of Hitler and the resulting atrocities of World War Two. The Jump Artist follows Halsmann through the trial, his despair, and his recovery and triumph. Austin Ratner does this with a stunning talent for descriptive writing and an ability to dig into the soul and pain of the main character. The tale is not only mesmerizing but a joy to read due to the skillful use of language. It is peppered with actual quotes from witnesses of the events. Yet this is not a non-fiction work but a fictional account in which the author is most interested in the individual struggles of the protagonist. The Jump Artist is easily the best new novel I have read in 2009.