Publisher’s Weekly – Starred Review “Pick of the Week”
* Extraordinary Renditions: Stories
Andrew Ervin. Coffee House, $14.95 paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-56689-246-9
Set in a madly grasping modern Budapest, literary critic Ervin’s debut mines very different ways of achieving personal and artistic freedom in three neatly polished, interlocking tales. In “14 Bagatelles,” world-renowned Hungarian composer Harkályi Lajos, a WWII concentration camp survivor who emigrated to America at 15, returns to Budapest for the premiere of his opera, The Golden Lotus, and finds the city shockingly hostile, criminal, and deeply anti-Semitic. “Brooking the Devil” follows the plight of a young black American GI, “Brutus” Gibson, rescued from skinheads by Harkályi, who is framed by his superior officer. Set up on a dangerous gun-running mission, Gibson recognizes his two choices: submit or refuse and risk court-martial. Finally, in “The Empty Chairs,” a second violinist in the Budapest orchestra, a young American expatriate performing Harkályi’s opera on the night of the premiere, deviates wildly from the score in a surprising and transformative reaction to the work–to the conductor’s horror and the composer’s great delight. With dexterous sensibility and fluid prose, Ervin’s protagonists find liberation from the onerous strictures of Budapest’s Nazi and Communist past. (Sept.)
Read it here.