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A Life's Music

On sale

9th June 2003

Price: £10.99

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Selected: Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780340820094

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In a snowbound railway station deep in the Soviet Union, a stranded passenger comes across an old man playing the piano in the dark, silent tears rolling down his cheeks. Once on the train to Moscow he begins to tell his story: a tale of loss, love and survival that movingly illustrates the strength of human resilience.

‘A novella to be read in a lunch hour and remembered for ever’ Jilly Cooper, Books of the Year, Sunday Telegraph


Francis King, Spectator
When I describe Andrei Makine as a great writer, this is no journalistic exaggeration but my wholly sincere estimate of a man of prodigious gifts. In his combination of clarity, concision, tenderness and elegiac lyricism, he is the heir to Ivan Bunin, the first Russian ever to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Allan Massie, Literary Review
Makine here is as good as Stendhal - or Tolstoy ... [he is] storyteller, teacher, and enchanter most of all. I would rather read him than anyone else now writing, and then reread him. I think this is his best book so far.
Makine's novellas are short in length but beautifully paced and filled with a lyricism that weaves reality and fantasy into a far bigger picture. Little wonder, then, that he's frequently likened to other Russian greats such as Nabokov and Chekhov ... an engrossing story of love, tragedy, betrayal and loss. Moving the plot forward effortlessly, he creates a mythic portrait of Communist Russia.
Beautifully paced and filled with a lyricism that weaves reality and fantasy into a far bigger picture ... engrossing
Ann Harleman, New York Times
Geoffrey Strachan's strong and graceful translation of a novel written in French manages to let its Russian soul shine through. "A Life's Music" exchanges the lushness of Makine's earlier work ... for the fiercer pleasures of concise storytelling. This is Makine's art
Scotland On Sunday
A Life's Music would make a terrific Tom Hanks movie. The tagline could be lifted straight from the book's jacket. A tale of war, heartbreak and survival. Both powerful and graceful, it has...depth and scope.
Kirkus Reviews
With matchless delicacy and economy ... Makine presents a movingly detailed history of survival, adaption and bitter disillusionment ... perfectly conceived and controlled. Its graceful narrative skilfully blends summarized action with powerfully evocative images charged with strong understated emotion ... masterly
Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (New York)
[An] elegant, heart-rending little gem of a work ... entirely fresh and necessary. Highly recommended.
Times Play
A Life's Music again proves Makine to be a very fine craftman.
Sam Thompson, Times Literary Supplement
Makine makes fresh images that are also profound and poignant, and this gives his portrait of a life derailed by history an irresistible authority.
Scotland On Sunday
A tale of war, heartbreak and survival. Both powerful and graceful, it has...depth and scope.
Irish Times
True to Makine's exquisite and haunting work, with its characteristic atmosphere born of pain and philosophy, this magnificent elegy of loss evokes the sheer size, mystery and chaos that is Russia.
Big Issue
The writing remains both poignant and subtle with the nuances of living a secret life given both colour and gravitas. A Life's Music makes for a fascinating - if all too brief - read.
Good Book Guide
This is truly a book to treasure.
Sunday Telegraph
No contemporary writer has expressed his simultaneous love of Russia and hatred of Communism as eloquently as Andrei Makine, and this exquisite, poignant novella is one of his most satisfying works
Simon Shaw, Mail on Sunday
An unforgettable testament to the indestructibility of the human spirit.
Daily Mail
Avoiding a heavy-handed treatment of Russian history, in little more than 100 pages Makine succeeds not only in condensing the life and loves of one man, but in capturing the fear that pervaded everyday life in Stalin's Soviet Union. It is the perfect riposte to anyone who believes that great Russian literature must be unwieldy and crammed with a cast of thousands