Ghost music

by Yu, An, 1992-

Format: Print Book 2023
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From the author of the "original and electric" Braised Pork ( Time ), An Yu's enchanting and contemplative novel of music and mushrooms follows a former concert pianist searching for the truth about a vanished musician

For three years, Song Yan has filled the emptiness of her Beijing apartment with the tentative notes of her young piano students. She gave up on her own career as a concert pianist many years ago, but her husband Bowen, an executive at a car company, has long rebuffed her pleas to have a child. He resists even when his mother arrives from the southwestern Chinese region of Yunnan and begins her own campaign for a grandchild. As tension in the household rises, it becomes harder for Song Yan to keep her usual placid demeanor, especially since she is troubled by dreams of a doorless room she can't escape, populated only by a strange orange mushroom.

When a parcel of mushrooms native to her mother-in-law's province is delivered seemingly by mistake, Song Yan sees an opportunity to bond with her, and as the packages continue to arrive every week, the women stir-fry and grill the mushrooms, adding them to soups and noodles. W hen a letter arrives in the mail from the sender of the mushrooms , Song Yan's world begins to tilt further into the surreal. Summoned to an uncanny, seemingly ageless house hidden in a hutong that sits in the middle of the congested city, she finds Bai Yu, a once world-famous pianist who disappeared ten years ago.

A gorgeous and atmospheric novel of art and expression, grief and survival, memory and self-discovery, Ghost Music animates contemporary Beijing through the eyes of a lonely yet hopeful young woman and gives vivid color and texture to the promise of new beginnings.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "A thought-to-be-missing piano prodigy recalls an old friend who "used to quote [Oscar Wilde] a lot. He said to live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people only exist." In Yu's follow-up to her lauded debut, Braised Pork (2020), also an atmospheric study in disconnected relationships, Song Yan is one of many who exist under layers of others' expectations. She's always followed the piano, encouraged by her concert pianist father. Yet despite her talent, she "never became a concert pianist and settled for being a teacher instead." Her three-year marriage to Bowen is devolving as his job at BMW removes him for months at a time from their Beijing home, sending him to Shanghai and further. His mother has recently taken their second bedroom, and her physical proximity magnifies the emotional distance. Song Yan wants a child, but Bowen absolutely refuses; a missing sister, another wife, an unwanted son all loom. In order to live, prodded by talking mushrooms, that elusive prodigy, and, finally, the music, Song Yan will need to escape her stifling existence. Yu delivers another intimate, intricate performance."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Yu (Braised Pork) mesmerizes with this surreal story of music and mushrooms. Song Yan, 29, a former concert pianist turned piano teacher in Beijing, has recurring dreams of a dark, doorless room where a ghost mushroom speaks to her. Meanwhile, her life is fraying: Yu brilliantly captures the dying throes of Song Yan's three-year marriage to Bowen, a BMW salesman; her untenable relationship with her mother-in-law; and her long-standing friendship with a supportive hairdresser. Everyone seems to know more about Bowen's late nights at work and extended trips to Shanghai and Munich than Song Yan does, and they also know life-shattering secrets about Bowen's past, including that he has a grieving ex-wife and a young son that might explain why he has been unwilling to have a child with Song Yan. Then there is the unsolved mystery of legendary pianist Bai Yu, who disappeared a decade ago, but might be the one who's anonymously sending Song Yan rare mushrooms. Along the way, Song Yan continues teaching and reflects on her favorite pieces by Chopin, Debussy, and Schubert. As Song Yan relentlessly surges toward independence and away from solitude and loneliness, Yu's blistering narrative reaches a plaintive end. Readers will be enthralled. Agent: Anna Webber, United Agents. (Jan.)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Novels.
Publisher New York :Grove Press,2023
Edition First Grove Atlantic hardcover edition.
Language English
Notes "First published in 2022 in Great Britain by Harvill Secker"--Title page verso.
Description pages cm
ISBN 9780802159625
Other Classic View