Piano by Jean Echenoz
A Novel

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Max Delmarc, age fifty, is a famous concert pianist with two problems: the first is a paralyzing stage fright for which the second, alcohol, is the only treatment. In this unparalleled comedy from the Prix Goncourt–winning French novelist Jean Echenoz, we journey with Max, from the trials of his everyday life, through his untimely death, and on into the afterlife.

After a brief stay in purgatory—part luxury hotel, part minimum security prison, under the supervision of deceased celebrities—Max is cast into an alarmingly familiar partition of hell, “the urban zone,” a dark and cloudy city much like his native Paris on an eternally bad day. Unable to play his beloved piano or stomach his needed drink, Max engages in a hapless struggle to piece his former life back together while searching in vain for the woman he once loved.

An acclaimed bestseller with 50,000 copies sold in France, Piano is a sly, sardonic evocation of Dante and Sartre for the present day, the playful, daring masterpiece of a novelist at the top of his form.


About Jean Echenoz

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Jean Echenoz won France's prestigious Prix Goncourt for I'm Gone (The New Press). He is the author of nine other novels in English translation--including 1914, Big Blondes, Lightning, Piano, Ravel, and Running, all published by The New Press--and the winner of numerous literary prizes, among them the Prix Médicis and the European Literature Jeopardy Prize. He lives in Paris.
Published April 15, 2004 by New Press, The. 179 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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One problem is stage fright (Bernie at times pushes him onto the stage), another is love of alcohol (Bernie steers him clear of bars before performances), and a third is Max’s old yearning for Rose, his one true love, who, through a misunderstanding (not a believable one), got away and now seems ...

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The Guardian

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The incompatibility between their characters becomes easy to understand: Max's job is to climb inside a piece of music and persuade a hall full of strangers to follow him, while Bernie's job is to keep Max sober and finally - since fear paralyses him until he's actually at the keyboard - to push ...

Dec 19 2004 | Read Full Review of Piano: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Delmarc quickly violates both rules by leaving his job as a hotel bartender to take a position as a lounge pianist in a more upscale hotel and by embarking on a search for Rose, whom he saw as the love of his life despite his inability to connect with her.

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