In the middle of a concert, in the middle of a piece, the internationally renowned pianist stands up, says “that’s it,” and walks out. This decision will change his life, but also those of the people in his entourage and audience in a whole array of unforeseen ways. The title means something like “apart at the seams” and having built up to the incident, we then see things start to unravel in response.
Alain Claude Sulzer’s novel (KiWi Verlag, 2012) is told from the points of view of a series of characters. There is Marek Olsberg, the pianist himself, his agent, his secretary, one of the waiters supposed to be working at the after-concert party, audience members and so on. Affairs are revealed as people come home unexpectedly, relationships broken or patched up, there are endings and new beginnings. Sulzer handles all the threads of these stories skilfully, bringing them together into a satisfying and entertaining whole. There are also plenty of loose ends to leave the reader wondering. The book was shortlisted for the Swiss Book Prize in 2012.
I enjoyed the novel hugely and am pleased to see that it has been translated into English by John Brownjohn and published by Thames River Press under the title Catalyst (2014). As I was reading, there seemed to be plenty of challenges for a translator to get their teeth into, and I’d be interested to see the result. It’s a shame that there is absolutely no information about the book in English in any online bookshop that I’ve found though. If you’ve gone to the effort of publishing a book, it seems odd not to want to encourage people to buy it…
So I’ll do it on their behalf. This is a great book: read it (if you can find it)!