Jonah, Joseph and Ruth are the children of mixed-race parents determined to protect them from the grinding effects of race.
Hothouse children, they are all musically talented, but they cannot be protected from the world for long.
Jonah becomes a successful young tenor, but the world of opera can only accept him as a 'brilliant Negro singer'; Joseph, our narrator, becomes a pianist and devotes his talents to the service of his brother's; Ruth turns her back on classical music ('white music') and disappears, on the run with her black husband under suspicion of being a Black Panther.
Powers brilliantly and devastatingly delineates the tragedy of race in America, as it unfolds from the Civil Rights movement to Rodney King and Louis Farrakhan, through the lives and choices of one family, caught on the cusp of identities.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 640 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 05/02/2004
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780099453833
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by firebird013
Few books manage to penetrate the soul, but this is one. It is hard to believe that anyone who reads Powers' evocation of a musical genius will emerge entirely unchanged. His ability to describe, engagingly and meaningfully, the almost spiritual qualities of a remarkable musical performance, is breath-taking. To be able to do so many times is remarkable. The back-drop to this account of a musical prodigy is the powerfully destructive force of race hatred in the States. Many books jostle for the title of Great American Novel; this one effortlessly makes the grade.
Review by Kristelh
A Nancy Pearl fave. The author brings intelligence and passionate interest in the sciences and humanities together in this story of a mixed race family during a time where life was impossible for mixed race people. It was worth reading, though a little lengthy. The book was about science, race, civil rights and relationships.