Virtuoso by Yelena Moskovich
Longlisted for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize 2020 'A hint of Lynch, a touch of Ferrante, the cruel absurdity of Antonin Artaud, the fierce candour of Anais Nin, the stylish languor of a Lana del Rey song ... Moskovich writes sentences that lilt and slink, her plots developing as a slow seduction and then clouding like a smoke-filled room.' Guardian Zorka. She had eyebrows like her name. 1980s Prague. For Jana, childhood means ration queues and the smell of boiled potatoes on the grey winter air. But just before Jana's seventh birthday, a new family moves in to their building: a bird-eyed mamka in a fox-fur coat, a stubble-faced papka - and a raven-haired girl named Zorka. As the first cracks begin to appear in the communist regime, Zorka teaches Jana to look beyond their building, beyond Prague, beyond Czechoslovakia ... and then, Zorka just disappears. Jana, now an interpreter in Paris for a Czech medical supply company, hasn't seen her in a decade. As Jana and Zorka's stories slowly circle across the surreal fluctuations of the past and present, the streets of 1980s Prague, the suburbs of 1990s Wisconsin and the lesbian bars of present-day Paris, they lead inexorably to a mysterious door on the Rue de Prague ... Written with the dramatic tension of Euripidean tragedy and the dreamlike quality of a David Lynch film, Virtuoso is an audacious, mesmerising novel of love in the post-communist diaspora.