With an imaginative audacity and lyrical brilliance that puts him in the company of David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon, Rana Dasgupta paints a portrait of a century though the story of a hundred-year-old blind Bulgarian man in a first novel that announces the arrival of an exhilarating new voice in fiction.
In the first movement of Solo we meet Ulrich, the son of a railroad engineer, who has two great passions: the violin and chemistry. Denied the first by his father, he leaves for the Berlin of Einstein and Fritz Haber to study the latter. His studies are cut short when his father’s fortune evaporates, and he must return to Sofia to look after his parents. He never leaves Bulgaria again. Except in his daydreams—and it is those dreams we enter in the volatile second half of the book. In a radical leap from past to present, from life lived to life imagined, Dasgupta follows Ulrich’s fantasy children, born of communism but making their way into a post-communist world of celebrity and violence.
Intertwining science and heartbreak, the old world and the new, the real and imagined, Solo is a virtuoso work.
“Utterly unforgettable in its humanity.” —The Guardian
About Rana DasguptaSee more books from this Author
whereas the language in the first part of the novel reveals just enough awkwardness to suggest that it’s a translation or that it was written by a non-native English speaker, the second part rolls out smoothly in beautifully crafted sentences.Apr 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Solo
The second part, despite a certain flashy vulgarity, is not uninteresting, but you have to get through the first part in order to reach it — 160 pages devoid of music, poetry, or inner beauty.Mar 06 2011 | Read Full Review of Solo
A BULGARIAN CALLED ULRICH IS looking back on his life.Apr 02 2009 | Read Full Review of Solo
Online version of the weekly magazine, with current articles, cartoons, blogs, audio, video, slide shows, an archive of articles and abstracts back to 1925Mar 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Solo
Ultimately, Solo suggests the life of the mind can be just as soul-sustaining as the life of day-to-day reality: “Thinking back, [Ulrich] is surprised at the quantity of time he spent in daydreams.Apr 05 2011 | Read Full Review of Solo
(I’d love to read a novel, or even a story, based on this summary.) These fable-like vignettes occur throughout the book - the scene of killing a pig which opens the second part of the book is a particular highlight - and I wondered if Dasgupta wasn’t more comf...| Read Full Review of Solo
The whole thing is a parody of itself: “off he rides on his noble steed,” it says in fairytalese, “to wake his love with love’s first kiss and prove that true love conquers all.” The film climaxes with a great thwack-out between the prince and the wicked witch, a battle that is won with the prick...Feb 08 2011 | Read Full Review of Solo
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