Virtuoso by Yelena Moskovich

Virtuoso book cover

Virtuoso is a stylistic piece of literary fiction that circles around the lives of a number of women. Jana’s Czech childhood was interrupted by raven-haired Zorka, a whirlwind who then disappeared. Jana is now an interpreter in Paris for a Czech medical company, where she meets Aimée, who is mourning the death of her wife. And in an internet chatroom, an American girl plots to rescue a Czech housewife from her husband.

Dreamlike in its narrative and in many of its descriptions, the novel moves between the stories and perspectives in a way that, surprisingly, mostly isn’t that confusing. When it is confusing, it feels like part of the style and the way that the fluctuations make the boundaries uncertain. The pace can sometimes be slow and sometimes fast, which again makes it feel like a series of dreams. The characters, particularly Jana and Zorka, are engaging, though at times it feels like you drift away from them and then return.

The artsy quality of Virtuoso, created through its style and interconnected narratives, will mean it isn’t for everyone. However, this is what makes it stand out, and it manages to make the characters’ narratives gripping even when it isn’t clear where anything is going.