Music for the Third Ear: A Novel

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9780312287764: Music for the Third Ear: A Novel

Seeking asylum from distant conflict in Eastern Europe, Zheljka and Mesud are given refuge in Norway at the home of Hans Olav and Mette. Their arrival has profound consequences. Apparently settled into a childless middle age, Mette revisits her own unresolved family history in her frantic desire to establish a connection with Zheljka. All the while, Mesud and Zheljka try to reinvent their love for each other in the aftermath of a brutal war.

Both families struggle to acknowledge the unspoken pain in their lives as Zheljka's child, unwanted but not unloved, becomes the focus of a drama in which each of them will share.

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About the Author:

Susan Schwartz Senstad, an American married to a Norwegian, lives near Oslo. Music for the Third Ear won the Charles Angoff Award at The Literary Review, was a semi-finalist in the 1998 William Faulkner Writing Competition, and was nominated for the 1998 Pushcart Editors' Choice Award. This is her first novel.

From Publishers Weekly:

The harsh reality of the Yugoslav wars is brought home to a Norwegian couple in this searing first novel. Middle-aged Mette and Hans Olav Kaldstad live in bourgeois comfort. Mette, the daughter of Jewish survivors of Bergen-Belsen, carries within her a certain vulnerable estrangement from Norway's Lutheran norms: her dearest wish, to conceive a child, has never come true. The couple's quiet existence is interrupted when they take a refugee Bosnian couple into their home: Zheljka Nadarevic is a Croatian Catholic, who, during the war, was gang-raped by Serbian soldiers; her husband, Mesud, endured torture in a prison camp. Zheljka's grief didn't end with the rapesAshe gave birth to a son whom she named, out of shame and bitterness, Zero. Managing to flee Bosnia, she and Zero went to Italy, where Mesud later tracked her down, asking her to choose between him and the boy, whom she then gave up for adoption. The couple is uncomfortable in the Kaldstads' house, and they soon leaveAbut Mette, unsatisfied with the whole episode, goes to visit Zheljka, with whom she feels an affinity, and learns about her ordealAand about Zero. Mette's unfulfilled maternal impulses focus on the boy; upon intercepting a letter from his adoptive father, she plans to bring him to Norway. The novel, which deftly merges the personal with the political, unfolds through brief episodes, often told in flashback, from the characters' varying perspectives. Without becoming didactic, Senstad examines the poisonous consequences of wartime atrocitiesAthe Holocaust, the Yugoslav conflictAupon the lives of individuals thrown together in their aftermath. Senstad's intimate take on large-scale tragedy is indicated by a touching jacket photograph of a solemn child. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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