by Patricia Grossman

Listening With The Inner Ear

Disturbance of the Inner Ear (Carroll and Graf, $25) is a novel that trades many conventions of storytelling to mix incident, emotion, history, and social observation. To the extent that Joyce Hackett’s debut novel is pure narrative, it’s about an orphaned former child prodigy, a brilliant young cellist named Isabel Masurovsky who finds herself alone in Italy without the means to support herself It’s about her past: her father, once a renowned pianist, was an inmate at Theresienstadt and raised his daughter to maintain a focus that would enable her to with stand any obstacle. It’s also about her present life, as she tries to live independently for the first time. And Disturbance of the Inner Ear is about the people Isabel meets and how they affect her: Giulio, a surgeon trying to outrun his life and Clayton, her student, who tries to hum over the friction in his.

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