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Solo - a novel   Post comment Printer friendly versionMore notes

Solo - a novel
novel, history, Bulgaria, Einstein, daydreams, music, chemistry, loss, epiphany crime, violin
Tuesday, May 27, 2008 00:24 GMT

Solo is ... an affirmation of the vitality of the spirit.
- The Wall St Journal (full review)

Solo is ... utterly unforgettable in its humanity.
- The Guardian (full review).

What a delight to find a novelist unfazed by the 21st century ... This is an important work.
- The Australian (full review).

Solo is a bold, stimulating, unclassifiable epic.
- The Boston Globe (full review)

Solo is a nuanced and virtuoso performance.
- Scotland on Sunday (full review).

Solo is beautifully symphonic - elegiac and prophetic, underpinned by intelligence, compassion and a wonderfully unfettered imagination. It’s a necessary as well as a timely novel.
- Sunday Business Post (full review).

... a surreal history of massive proportions ... Dasgupta's writing is a revelation ... The back cover lauds the book as "a devastating and rapturous novel". It is. I'm still shaking.
- The Nelson Mail (full review).

Winner of the 2010 Commonwealth Writers' Prize, "Solo" recounts the life and daydreams of Ulrich, a one hundred year-old blind man from Bulgaria:

In the hour before they retired, the silence claimed his mother too, and Ulrich relaxed into contentment. While the ball of wool twitched with her knitting, his attention drifted from his books and spiralled into his own recesses, where old faces coasted past like comforting submarine monsters, and fine filaments lit up a route to the future. He came to find solace in these daydreams, and on the days when he did not have an opportunity to cultivate them, he went to bed quite unsatisfied.

Solo is an exquisite book, one of the best I’ve read all year; but trying to encompass why is quite difficult, because it could go in so many directions ... The contrast between the novel’s two parts is ... well-handled and subtle. It’s not simply that one depicts failure and the other success. It’s that, in life, one of Ulrich’s obsessions caused so much tragedy — chemistry destroyed his marriage, poisoned his country, took his sight; but, in his daydreams, it is Ulrich’s other obsession, music, that brings so much joy. And it’s that Ulrich’s memories, being somewhat hazy and episodic, feel much like daydreams; whilst his daydreams have a structure that make them feel more like reality (come to think of it, isn’t that often the way in our own lives?).
- David Hebblethwaite, Follow the Thread (full review)

Solo is published by HarperCollins in the British Commonwealth. It will be published in 2010-11 in the US (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), France (Gallimard), Germany (Karl Blessing), Norway (Aschehoug ), Italy (Feltrinelli), the Netherlands (Signatuuur), Spain (Duomo), Brazil (Saraiva), Romania (Corint), Bosnia (Buybook), Canada (HarperCollins), Greece (Metaichmio), Turkey (Metis) and Bulgaria (Janet 45). For dates in other countries, watch this space, or join the Solo Facebook group for news.
Wherever you are in the world, you can order Solo from Amazon.co.uk. Some footnotes to the book can be found here.

Solo follows Rana Dasgupta's first book, Tokyo Cancelled (2005), a collection of thirteen folktales for the age of globalisation.

Only the most gifted writers, like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jonathan Safron-Foer, can hold the surreal and the real in satisfying equilibrium. This elite now welcomes Rana Dasgupta to its ranks. He makes magic realism his own, and his debut novel is superb.
- Andrew Staffell, Time Out (London)

Tokyo Cancelled was short-listed for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize (UK) and the Hutch Crossword Book Award (India). One tale from the book was short-listed for the BBC National Short Story Prize.

These stories ... ah, they outdo the Arabian Nights for inventiveness ... One closes the book with head spinning.
- Rachel Hore, The Guardian