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Virtuoso

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3.55  ·  Rating details ·  127 ratings  ·  30 reviews
For the first ten years of her life, Jana was a simple Czech girl, a watercolour. Her days were a clock run by the Czechoslovakian State Security, snapping hidden photos in their plainclothes. Much fervent artwork was created: Man Subverting Republic (Black and White), Woman Distributing (Tryptic). Man and Woman Organizing (Reprint).
Jana was a watercolour, until the
...more
Hardcover, 250 pages
Published January 3rd 2019 by Serpent's Tail
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Average rating 3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  127 ratings  ·  30 reviews


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Ova - Excuse My Reading
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
After finishing, I thought this book was a bit Daisy Johnson's Everything Under. It's sad, poetic, almost a modern fairy tale. The characters are floating in the story but in a really nice way.
It took me a while to get what's going on. You might want to start reading with 0 information. If so, do not read the rest of this review.

Jana is working as a translator, she is gay and still remembers the weird attraction of her childhood, her friend Zorka, who suddenly disappeared. Jana meets with Aimee,
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Blair
Nobody writes like Yelena Moskovich, and this novel is aptly named. I consumed Virtuoso in sips like it was the richest hot chocolate Id ever had. But at the end I was left with a mildly disappointing bitter taste.

It opens with a woman being found dead in a hotel room by her wife, and works both backwards and forwards from there, with a focus on the lives of two characters. One of them is Aimée, the wife in the opening scene. The other is Jana, who will later cross paths with Aimée. Originally
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
It's taken a while to know how to talk about this book. In some ways it scratches the same itch as one of my favorite novels (Black Wave by Michelle Tea if you somehow haven't caught me going on about it) - 90s, lesbian subculture, slight moments of surrealism and fantasy - but also the story moves around in time as little pieces are revealed, and much of it is in fragments, which usually works for me. All main characters are female, some are from the newly dissolved Czechoslovakia and ...more
Joc
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lesbian
Im not entirely sure what to make of this but at no point did I want to stop reading it. I was sucked in by the imagery and descriptions and was completely engaged in wanting to know more about the characters.

Virtuoso starts off in third person omniscient where the wife gets back to her hotel room and finds the body. There's a dream-like quality to the rushing around of the hotel staff, paramedics and the wife until she has to sign the papers. We've been introduced to Aimée de Saint-Pé.

Then it
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hayden
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is a fever dream of a novelI loved following the wisps of these fragmented narratives as they twisted and tangled. I thought the mystery at the beginning was going to be what resolved at the end, but I was delighted to find several other characters come into the picture, to where when our understanding of the opening developed, it felt more like a thread weaved into the grander picture than a dramatic reveal. (that sentence is too long and makes no sense. read this book instead of this ...more
Declan
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Yelena Moskovichs new novel develops depth and passion as it progresses, while never losing a sense of humour. All its early connections develop and entwine. No character is central, because the novel is multi-voiced and unconcerned about the insistence of plot.
Full review here: https://drb.ie/essays/symphony-in-blue
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Kate (Reading Through Infinity)
1.5 stars
TWs: suicide, sexual assault, rape, physical abuse, racism.

I thought this book was going to be a mesmerising sapphic tale, but sadly it was just very strange and uncomfortable to read. Virtuoso follows two queer couples as their lives intertwine throughout the decades across the US and Czech Republic, and they come to realise what they want out of life. The narrative and plot were both fragmented, meaning it was often difficult to tell which era we were reading about and where the
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Andrew
Oct 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, lgbtq
Virtuoso jumps through time involving three pairs of sapphic women, ranging from childhood friends. marriage, and scandal. The paths of these women sync and blend together like waves, written in an almost abstract form. These are loves intertwined with melancholy and mystery. I will admit sometimes I'm not at all sure what is going on, but nevertheless, I was engaged in its format. As their stories unfold, you may feel like rereading again and again to put together all the pieces.
Siobhan
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
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Anya
Nov 07, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2018, netgalley
Virtuoso was a weird novel full of peculiar descriptions and metaphors.
Often you found out more from what was in between the lines than of what was said.

I had a few issues.

I usually don't have a problem with vulgar,sexual or strong language or content, but if a 7-year old girl wants to be more "molestable", then that's just not okay for me.
I was not a fan of the constant change of perspective. I believe the author intended to create some confusion, but the layout and jumping around didn't make
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Amanda
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: other-fiction
Beautifully written. It leaves you trying to work out what went on. I have theories and now I want to read it again.
Lolly K Dandeneau
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/
'And yet, there is an extra weight within the room, like a movement finishing itself.'

This novel shifts so much from story and perspective that it may lose a few readers in the process but for those of us that like these little roller coaster reads, hang on! Two Dollar Radio serves up another gem of a novel in Yelena Moskovichs latest madness. The novel starts with a dead body, but hang on. This is a coming of age at the end of the Soviet era,
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Beth M.
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two Dollar Radio has a way of putting out deliciously different works and Yelena Moskovichs latest novel is no exception. Fair warning, readers ... this one requires focus and effort, but it is well worth the work!

Virtuoso follows two young women, Jana and Zorka, as they come of age in Prague during the 1980s. Set against the backdrop of Communisms decline, Zorka brings light, adventure, and an unexpected love to Janas otherwise boring days that is until she suddenly disappears. The novel
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Joseph Haeger
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like Mulholland Dr. (a movie I love) or Kids (a movie I do not love), I had a visceral reaction to Virtuoso (a bookif you havent it figured outI love). With those movies, I can think about the emotions they evoked even if I can't remember all the specifics of the plotand even now, I know years down the road Ill look at my bookshelf and see the pale blue spine of this book standing upright and Ill be brought back to this feeling Im having now. It is the highest form of praise you can give a piece ...more
Mallory
Weird.
Gayatri Saikia
Mar 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: on-my-shelf
Yelena Moskovich fills Virtuoso with an abundance of clinging metaphors and a whole array of vivid imageries. Virtuoso is one of those books that is both difficult to read and review at the same time. Yes, it is a polarising book and I am conflicted on whether I dislike it or love it for being such an uncomfortable read. But, it definitely managed to leave a mark on me and I am honestly glad that I got a chance to read it. Virtuoso is like that piece of art that you either connect with in an ...more
Nicki Markus
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Virtuoso was certainly a fascinating piece of literature. It had a dreamlike quality that pulled me in and kept me turning the pages. The prose was beautiful and lyrical, and I loved the raw yet emotional portrayal of the women in the cast. This is a novel that requires concentration as we weave from one story to the next and back again, but I enjoyed piecing everything together. This is a book with plenty to say that will leave you pondering for days after you close the final page. That said, I ...more
Anne Goodwin
Feb 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Prague in the dying days of communism, and seven-year-old Jana gets a new best friend. Jana is sweet and studious, Zorka repeatedly runs away from home. For a few years, the girls are inseparable, until Zorka disappears one last time.

Fast forward to the 90s, and Jana works as a translator in Paris. At a medical supplies exhibition she bumps into Aimée: to her a chance encounter soon forgotten, but the readers met Aimée already, on the first page, when she returns to her hotel room to find the
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Nick Gardner
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read an ARC. Soon to come out from Two Dollar Radio. One of my top 5 books of the year. The writing is hauntingly beautiful. The characters are so real. The story itself is perfectly told. I couldnt put this one down. ...more
Victoria
Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
languid, strange and often labyrinthine this is a gorgeous queer, feminist tale of interwoven characters that I really loved, though I did feel a bit disappointed by how all the strings were tied together in the end. ...more
Sophie
Nov 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: for-review
Definitely written in a unique and interesting style, with mesmerising and flowing prose; I can see why it has been compared to the dreamy qualities of Lynchian films.

This copy was kindly provided to me in exchange for an honest review by the publisher via NetGalley.
Hannah Swanwick
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.8
but 4 because
Cat
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
4.5
Kate Poirier
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I quite liked this. I picked it up at the library because of the interesting cover and then I read it in a day.
Caitlin
Jan 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: queer-books
Slippery, sharp and dark. I enjoyed this book but at times it jumped between scenes a little too often and timelines became blurred - or was this the intention?
Saya
Feb 06, 2019 rated it did not like it
It was so distracting that she kept using the word "discretely" when she meant "discreetly."
ya na
Apr 17, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf, 2019-list
I got really excited at the prospect of a queer novel from a culture closer to my own. Instead, I got a novel that tried so very hard to pull off a Central European version of the Murakami / Nothombe aesthetic by stylizing and fixating on key cultural aspects in the entirely wrong way.

It's just successfully synthesized, concentrated, and essentially repeated some of the most damaging stereotypes and tropes surrounding Central/Eastern European women and culture and tried to make it consumable
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Agnese
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, fiction
A somewhat fragmented, dreamlike story about a group of queer women and how their lives intertwine over the course of many years. The book slightly reminded me of Crimson in how the traditional narrative is interspersed with chat room conversations. The narrative constantly drifts back and forth in time and between perspectives to slowly reveal the connections between these women, however, this stylistic choice also made it difficult to keep track of the story, or I (probably) just didn't have ...more
Matthew
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The sentences feel larger than life. At times, each sentence feels it tells of an entire life. So packed with a mesmerizing mix of prose and poetry. I thought I was fully aware of what was happening... until that last chapter. I will need to spend a lot more time thinking this one over. And, probably, revisiting.
Nate
Jan 18, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book reads like a strange dream. A lot of the time youre uncertain if a scene is really happening or if its part of a characters delusions. I really enjoyed the authors style of writing, her descriptions set a dreamy, hallucinogenic atmosphere for the book, but still have a sharp edge from some of the word choices. I enjoyed reading it, but the ending was super fucking confusing. ...more
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Yelena Moskovich was born in 1984 in Ukraine (former USSR) and emigrated to the US with her family in 1991. After graduating with a degree in playwriting from Emerson College, Boston, she moved to Paris to study at the Lecoq School of Physical Theatre, and later for a Masters degree in Art, Philosophy and Aesthetics from Universite Paris 8. Her plays have been produced in the US, Vancouver, Paris, ...more

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