Europa. Feb. 2022. 128p. ISBN 9781609457341. $20. F
Russian musician Tomasz and his teenage daughter, Aneliya, are at the heart of this philosophical, poetic novel from the award-winning Keenan (This Is Memorial Device). Tomasz is a famous avant-garde guitarist and singer whose wife was drowned in the sea while on holiday vacation, and his world revolves around Aneliya. Less plot-driven, the narrative is more of an open conversation about music and art that explores the meanings and interrelationship of synchronicity, significance, memories, mercy, and grace. At one point, Keenan proclaims that “art is a neurotic activity…that’s why there is so much more of it in the city,” and near the end he says that art is “like a hand grenade thrown through an open window.” Inspired by musicians Leonard Cohen and Bob Desper, Tomasz’s music is overtaken by the muse he calls Xstabeth, which may just send him on his way to being the musician he dreamed of becoming.
VERDICT The Russian soul and its attendant angst are well explored in this short novel, as Aneliya and her father contemplate the significance of art.
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