The Prague Sonata
Music and war, war and music--these are the twin motifs around which Bradford Morrow, recipient of the Academy Award in Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, has composed his magnum opus, The Prague Sonata, a novel more than a dozen years in the making.
In the early days of the new millennium, pages of a worn and weathered original sonata manuscript--the gift of a Czech immigrant living out her final days in Queens--come into the hands of Meta Taverner, a young musicologist whose concert piano career was cut short by an injury. To Meta's eye, it appears to be an authentic eighteenth-century work; to her discerning ear, the music rendered there is commanding, hauntingly beautiful, clearly the undiscovered composition of a master. But there is no indication of who the composer might be. The gift comes with the request that Meta attempt to find the manuscript's true owner--a Prague friend the old woman has not heard from since the Second World War forced them apart--and to make the three-part sonata whole again. Leaving New York behind for the land of Dvoř k and Kafka, Meta sets out on an unforgettable search to locate the remaining movements of the sonata and uncover a story that has influenced the course of many lives, even as it becomes clear that she isn't the only one after the music's secrets.
Magisterially evoking decades of Prague's tragic and triumphant history, from the First World War through the soaring days of the Velvet Revolution, and moving from postwar London to the heartland of immigrant America, The Prague Sonata is both epic and intimate, evoking the ways in which individual notes of love and sacrifice become part of the celebratory symphony of life.
Twining music history with the political tumults of the 20th century, The Prague Sonata is a sophisticated, engrossing intellectual mystery... [Morrow's] captivating, hopeful book presents a vision of the broken past, restored. * Wall Street Journal * Bradford Morrow is an astonishing writer. -- Joyce Carol Oates A treasure of a novel, a deliciously enveloping musical mystery which I read with marvel and gusto. -- Diane Ackerman Bradford Morrow is remarkable. The Real Thing, which is rare on this earthly plane. -- Michael Cunningham This rich, masterful novel brilliantly explores the complex tumble of history, the human capacity for good and for evil, the fragile but redeeming glory of art. Morrow has long been one of America's finest novelists. And this humanely epic tale is his finest book. -- Robert Olen Butler Bradford Morrow has written his masterpiece. The Prague Sonata is a rich, joyous, complex journey into the city of Prague, the claims made upon us by music, and several dark, dark corners of human experience. -- Peter Straub An elegant foray into music and memory. * Kirkus *
Bradford Morrow has lived for the past thirty years in New York City and rural upstate New York, though he grew up in Colorado and lived and worked in a variety of places in between, including a year in Paris. He is the author of several novels including The Diviner's Tale (Corvus 2011). Morrow's many awards include an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, O. Henry and Pushcart Prizes, as well as the PEN/Nora Magid Award. He has taught at Princeton, Columbia, and Brown Universities and for the past twenty years has been a Bard Center Fellow and professor of literature at Bard College.www.bradfordmorrow.com.