Isabel Merton is a renowned concert pianist, whose playing is marked by rare intensity, and for whom each performance is a plunge into the compelling world of the music. At the height of her career, she feels increasingly torn between the expressive musical realm she inhabits, and the fragmented life she leads as an itinerant artist, with its frequent flights, anonymous hotels and fortuitous, arbitrary encounters. Away from her New York home on a European tour, Isabel meets Ivo Uzbetgic, a political exile from war-torn Chechnya driven by a bitter sense of injustice and a powerful desire to help and avenge his people. Like her, he lives a nomadic existence in pursuit of his cause; and as their paths cross in several cities, they are drawn to each other both by their differences, and their seemingly parallel passions until a menacing incident forces her to re-evaluate his actions and her own feelings-- and throws her into a creative crisis. In this fiercely lyrical novel, Hoffman explores the luminous and dark faces of romanticism; our often unadmitted need for more than personal meaning; and the place and force of art in a world riven with violence.
Eva Hoffman was born in Cracow, Poland, and emigrated in her teens to America. The recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Whiting Award and an award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, she lives in London.