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Publisher's Summary

Named a must-read/must-listen by the Chicago Tribune, O Magazine, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and The L Magazine.

Rebecca Makkai’s first two novels, The Borrower and The Hundred-Year House, have established her as one of the freshest and most imaginative voices in fiction. Now, the award-winning writer, whose stories have appeared in four consecutive editions of The Best American Short Stories, returns with a highly anticipated collection bearing her signature mix of intelligence, wit, and heart. 

A reality show producer manipulates two contestants into falling in love, even as her own relationship falls apart. Just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a young boy has a revelation about his father’s past when a renowned Romanian violinist plays a concert in their home. When the prized elephant of a traveling circus keels over dead, the small-town minister tasked with burying its remains comes to question his own faith. In an unnamed country, a composer records the folk songs of two women from a village on the brink of destruction. 

These transporting, deeply moving stories - some inspired by her own family history - amply demonstrate Makkai’s extraordinary range as a storyteller and confirm her as a master of the short-story form. 

“Richly imagined.” (Chicago Tribune)

“Impressive.” (O, The Oprah Magazine)

“Engrossing.” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

“Inventive.” (W Magazine)

©2015 Rebecca Makkai (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Ricocheting from the war-torn twentieth century to the reality-show-rich present day, the stories in this impressive collection feature characters buffeted by fate - or is it mere happenstance?... Our sense of history is probed, too, not without humor.” (The New Yorker)

“It’s impossible to resist the spell this collection’s 17 stories weave. Wide in range and deep in feeling, Music for Wartime further confirms what The Hundred-Year House made clear: Rebecca Makkai is a writer of the first order, a writer whose name deserves to become well known among all discerning readers of fiction.” (The Philadelphia Inquirer

“[Makkai’s] stories were anthologized in The Best American Short Stories for four years in a row, and Music for Wartime proves these honors were well-deserved, highlighting her poised voice, willingness to experiment, deft hand at structure, and capacity to surprise.... Makkai brilliantly demonstrates that art can never be merely tangential to the lives of people who care about it.” (Dallas Morning News

What listeners say about Music for Wartime

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Rebecca Makkai is a genius of a writer

I can’t get enough of Rebecca Makkais writing. The way she weaves a story is enchanting.

Love this just as much as I love all her other works! Great great read!

1 person found this helpful