From the author of the international bestseller, Laurus, comes a richly layered, universal coming-of-age story in which a musical prodigy robbed of his talent by an incurable disease attempts to overcome his mortality. Through well-wrought vignettes and dialogue in the original Ukrainian, Vodolazkin shows us the ways in which these identities are inextricably linked and expressed through the push and pull of loyalties big and small.
After Gleb Yanovsky, a celebrated guitarist, is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at age fifty, he permits a writer, Sergei Nesterov, to pen his biography. For years, they meet regularly as Gleb recounts the life he’s lived thus far: a difficult childhood in Kyiv, his formative musical studies in St. Petersburg, and his later years in Munich, where he lives with his wife and meets a thirteen-year-old virtuoso whom he embraces as his own daughter. In a mischievous and tender account, Gleb recalls a personal story of a lifetime quest for meaning, and how the burden of success changes with age.
Expanding the literary universe spun in his earlier novels, Vodolazkin explores music and fame, heritage and belonging, time and memory. In a dueling interplay between Gleb’s first-person recollections and Nesterov’s interpretation, the carefully knit stitches unravel into a puzzle: Whose story is it – the subject’s or the writer’s? Are art and love really no match for death? Is memory a reliable narrator? In Brisbane, the city of our dreams, as in music, Gleb hopes he’s found a path to eternity – and a way to stop the clock.