Zoli: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews


Set in Slovakia after WWII,
this ambitious novel chronicles the life of a Gypsy songstress and poet.  Resistant to communist plans to assimilate
them into the general population, the Romani cling to their tribal traditions
with a vengeance.  Zoli falls in love
with a poet and breaks a taboo, her punishment is to be banished from her
tribe.  McCann tells the story from
several perspectives, covering the time from Zoli’s youth until her old age.  Gypsies are a maligned group, targeted by
Hitler for extermination, looked down on by other European’s they cling to a
traditional way of life that is at odds with modern society.  McCann gives us a look inside their very
private culture and tells the story of a fascinating woman.

— Deon Stonehouse

Description


From the National Book Award–winning author of Let the Great World Spin, this haunting novel is an examination of intimacy and betrayal in a community rarely captured so vibrantly in contemporary literature.
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST AND THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR 

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 has created a sensuous novel about exile, belonging and survival, based loosely on the true story of the Romani poet Papusza. 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.

Praise for Zoli

“Very powerful . . . rich in vivid detail . . . the prose is just plain gorgeous. . . . McCann allows us to enter a world few of us know anything about.”San Francisco Chronicle
 
“[A] beautifully written [novel] loosely based on the life of the Polish Gypsy poet ‘Papusza,’ who lived throughout most of the twentieth century. . . . Beautifully conceived, wonderfully told, the story is proof of an indomitable spirit. The elusive character of Zoli, the brilliang artist, is unforgettable.”The Washington Post Book World
 
“McCann is a writer of large and driving vision. . . . [Zoli] contains passages of stunning lyricism and sharp ironic force.”The New York Times

“Rich and sensuous . . . McCann’s research and lustrous prose bring Zoli vibrantly alive.”Entertainment Weekly

About the Author


Colum McCann is the internationally bestselling author of the novels TransAtlantic, Let the Great World Spin, Zoli, Dancer, This Side of Brightness, and Songdogs, as well as three critically acclaimed story collections. His fiction has been published in thirty-five languages. He has received many honors, including the National Book Award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres award from the French government, and the Ireland Fund of Monaco Literary Award in Memory of Princess Grace. He has been named one of Esquire’s “Best and Brightest,” and 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, and The Paris Review, he teaches in the Hunter College MFA Creative Writing program. He lives in New York City with his wife and their three children, and he is the cofounder of the global nonprofit story exchange organization Narrative 4.

Praise For…


“Very powerful . . . rich in vivid detail . . . the prose is just plain gorgeous. . . . McCann allows us to enter a world few of us know anything about.”San Francisco Chronicle
 
“[A] beautifully written [novel] loosely based on the life of the Polish Gypsy poet ‘Papusza,’ who lived throughout most of the twentieth century. . . . Beautifully conceived, wonderfully told, the story is proof of an indomitable spirit. The elusive character of Zoli, the brilliang artist, is unforgettable.”The Washington Post Book World
 
“McCann is a writer of large and driving vision. . . . [Zoli] contains passages of stunning lyricism and sharp ironic force.”The New York Times
 
“Rich and sensuous . . . McCann’s research and lustrous prose bring Zoli vibrantly alive.”Entertainment Weekly
 
“Astonishing . . . carefully crafted and subtle portrait of one woman’s rich and troubled relationship with her people, and with her own Gypsy heart.”The Philadelphia Inquirer
 
“Soaring and stumbling over decades of midcentury Eastern Europe, Zoli is a riveting novel.”—Gail Caldwell, Boston Sunday Globe 
 
“McCann affirms with Zoli, his fourth novel, that he is a writer with a method and a mission . . . The Roma hardships under the Nazis, their hopes and cruel disillusion under Communism, are grittily conveyed in scenes well researched and often gripping.”Los Angeles Times
Product Details
ISBN: 9780812973983
ISBN-10: 0812973984
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Publication Date: March 11th, 2008
Pages: 368
Language: English