A former Soviet pianist of international renown, Suvorin committed career suicide when he developed a violent distaste for the sound of applause. This eccentric gentleman tells his life story to the novel's narrator over a series of coffee dates, punctuated by confessions, anecdotes, and rages as a strained friendship develops between the two men.
This novel is at once egoless, sly, profound, funny, authentic and utterly mysterious—without ever seeming to break a sweat ... An immense humility encompasses the novel. In a world that shouts, this book is a song played softly, and slowly ... Wondratschek’s story reveals itself to be entirely original and uncontrived. The contemporary nervous system of the average American (me) is unprepared for this book: It demands patient, sustained attention to be heard. To hurry through or expect to be 'entertained' is to entirely miss the point. If one is willing to linger in this novel’s final echo, the effect is worthwhile ... Wondratschek writes the way his hero plays.
Pensive, philosophically charged novel of old age and loss ... Wondratschek’s layered narrative reflects on language, art, politics, and history, and though nothing much happens in it, there is plenty to think about. Wondratschek even sneaks in a few jokes ... Readers with a bent for Thomas Mann and Elias Canetti will find this book a pleasure, if a somber one.
... a tender character study ... The author writes about music with intimacy and tenderness, and peppers his narrative with delightful anecdotes of the foibles of high-art celebrities. Wondratschek’s deeply felt meditation on the joys and sorrows of a life in music delivers the goods.