The Variations by John Donatich
A Novel

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A compelling sympathy of the faiths that fill the gap between who we set out to be and who we ultimately become

A powerful debut novel about a priest who has lost his church, his mentor, and, most upsetting, his ability to pray. How can Father Dominic protect or guide his parish when everything he loves falls away? How can he counsel Dolores, a troubled teenager prone to emotional panic and spiritual monomania? Or James, a promising African American pianist, struggling to realize his artistic ambitions by bringing his own voice to a piece that has been played by the world's most brilliant pianists, Bach's Goldberg Variations.

Into this malaise comes Andrea, a sophisticated New York editor attracted at first by Dom's blog and then by the man himself. Dom's journey from the cloth into the secular world will offer carnal knowledge, but also something deeper, a more resistant knowledge as life fails to offer happiness or redemption. In prose both searching and muscular, John Donatich's The Variations has located the right metaphor for our spiritual crisis in this story of one man's spiritual disillusion and ache for self-knowledge.


About John Donatich

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John Donatich is the director of the Yale University Press. His essays and occasional pieces have appeared in Harper's and the The Atlantic Monthly. This is his first novel.  
Published February 28, 2012 by Henry Holt and Co.. 286 pages
Genres: Religion & Spirituality, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The paths of James and Dominic cross when the pianist becomes choir director at Our Lady of Fatima, and the narrative is further complicated when Dominic becomes romantically involved with Signora Rosa’s daughter Andrea, a divorcée with a 10-year-old daughter.

Jan 15 2012 | Read Full Review of The Variations: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Though complex debates about celibacy and the modern Catholic Church are well articulated through Father Dominic’s frequent ruminations, he still manages to counsel Dolores Alfano, an emotionally disturbed 16-year-old high school dropout allegedly impregnated by the former pastor, the late Fath...

Jan 09 2012 | Read Full Review of The Variations: A Novel

Dallas News

His struggles are mirrored in James’ obsessive efforts to master “dear, severe, generous Bach.” What Dominic comes to learn is that his faith and Bach’s Aria in the Goldberg Variations are primary, bringing us to the place we started, that all “the dances, the marches, the advances and retreats” ...

Mar 03 2012 | Read Full Review of The Variations: A Novel

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