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Author(s): Eugene Vodolazkin, Marian Schwartz (Translator)

Location(s): Kyiv, St Petersburg (Leningrad)

Genre(s): Fiction, In Translation

Era(s): 20th Century

For fans of Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, and Umberto Eco

Vodolazkin’s new novel Brisbane is “a sophisticated and frequently moving study in dissonance, dedicated to pointing out contrasts between art and life, beauty and decay, intention and outcome. And, yes, between Ukraine and Russia” (Booklist).

Brisbane is a richly layered, universal coming-of-age story of a musical prodigy robbed of his talent by an incurable disease who attempts to overcome his mortality. 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 this beautifully-wrought and relevant tale that carefully 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.

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