A unique love story, a tale of loss, a parable of Europe, this haunting novel is an examination of intimacy and betrayal in a community rarely captured so vibrantly in contemporary literature.
Zoli Novotna, a young woman raised in the traveling Gypsy tradition, is a poet by accident as much as desire. As 1930s fascism spreads over Czechoslovakia, Zoli and her grandfather flee to join a clan of fellow Romani harpists. Sharpened by the world of books, which is often frowned upon in the Romani tradition, Zoli becomes the poster girl for a brave new world. As she shapes the ancient songs to her times, she finds her gift embraced by the Gypsy people and savored by a young English expatriate, Stephen Swann.
But Zoli soon finds that when she falls she cannot fall halfway–neither in love nor in politics. While Zoli’s fame and poetic skills deepen, the ruling Communists begin to use her for their own favor. Cast out from her family, Zoli abandons her past to journey to the West, in a novel that spans the 20th century and travels the breadth of Europe.
Colum McCann, acclaimed author of Dancer and This Side of Brightness, has created a sensuous novel about exile, belonging and survival, based loosely on the true story of the Romani poet Papsuza. It spans the twentieth century and travels the breadth of Europe. In the tradition of Steinbeck, Coetzee, and Ondaatje, McCann finds the art inherent in social and political history, while vividly depicting how far one gifted woman must journey to find where she belongs.
About the Author
COLUM McCANN is the internationally bestselling author of the novels Let the Great World Spin, Zoli, Dancer, This Side of Brightness and Songdogs, as well as two critically acclaimed story collections. His fiction has been published in thirty-five languages. McCann has received many honours, including the National Book Award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French government. His short film "Everything in This Country Must" was nominated for an Oscar in 2005. A contributor to The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly and The Paris Review, he teaches in the Hunter College MFA Creative Writing Program. He lives in New York City with his wife, Allison, and their three children.