“Solo is a wonder—an exploration of memory, a window on a country and region mysterious to the West even in the twentieth century, a keen study of human love and failure.”—Elizabeth Kostova, author of The Historian
With imaginative audacity and lyrical brilliance, Rana Dasgupta paints a portrait of a century through the story of a hundred-year-old blind Bulgarian man in this remarkable and dazzling debut novel.
In the first movement of Solo we meet Ulrich, the son of a railroad engineer. His passion for chemistry leads him to Berlin, but his studies are cut short when 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, Solo is a virtuoso work.
“A novel utterly refreshing in its blunt acknowledgment that thoroughgoing realism involves escaping reality as much as constructing it . . . What makes Mr. Dasgupta’s adventurous storytelling especially rewarding is the way he carefully integrates tiny details from Ulrich’s drab life into his fantasy, transfiguring them like hay spun into gold . . . Invigorating.”—Wall Street Journal