Reviews

  • "A great novel, Barnes’s masterpiece… Exquisite, intimate detail. He has given us a novel that is powerfully affecting, a condensed masterpiece that traces the lifelong battle of one man’s conscience, one man’s art, with the insupportable exigencies of totalitarianism."

    Alex Preston, Observer
  • "Barnes’s sombre, brilliant new novel opens with a scene like something from a story by ChekhovGleaming with intelligence and literary flair, this elegantly composed fictional meditation offers a fresh gloss on a musical genius’s collisions and collusions with power."

    Peter Kemp, Sunday Times
  • "[Barnes is] a master of the narrative sidestep… Not just a novel about music, but something more like a musical novel… The story itself is structured in three parts that come together like a broken chord. It is a simple but brilliant device, and one that goes right to the heart of this novel."

    Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, The Times
  • "A compelling novel about art and power, courage and cowardice, and the capriciousness of fate…Barnes brilliantly captures the composer’s conflicted state of mind…This book is only 190 pages long, but it packs an extraordinary emotional punch."

    Sebastian Shakespeare, Tatler
  • "The writing in the early pages is magnificentThe reader has the confidence of being in the hands of a master storyteller… Barnes has a good sense of what life was like in the Soviet Union. He captures well the black humor, irony and cynicism."

    Orlando Figes, New York Review of Books