A Novel

The Prix Goncourt winner brings Dante to today’s Paris

“Every word is perfectly placed; the writing is fluid, never forced, and there isn’t a trace of an awkward phrase, like a garment that fits beautifully even inside-out.” —Elle

Max Delmarc, age fifty, is a famous concert pianist with two problems: the first is a paralyzing stage fright for which the second, alcohol, is the only treatment. In this unparalleled comedy from the Prix Goncourt–winning French novelist Jean Echenoz, we journey with Max, from the trials of his everyday life, through his untimely death, and on into the afterlife.

After a brief stay in purgatory—part luxury hotel, part minimum security prison, under the supervision of deceased celebrities—Max is cast into an alarmingly familiar partition of hell, “the urban zone,” a dark and cloudy city much like his native Paris on an eternally bad day. Unable to play his beloved piano or stomach his needed drink, Max engages in a hapless struggle to piece his former life back together while searching in vain for the woman he once loved.

An acclaimed bestseller with 50,000 copies sold in France, Piano is a sly, sardonic evocation of Dante and Sartre for the present day, the playful, daring masterpiece of a novelist at the top of his form.



Piano is not only Echenoz’s best book, it’s also his most personal and most daring.”
Le Journal Du Dimanche
“Rarely has the difficult craft of storytelling been as well mastered.”
The Times Literary Supplement
Piano is a euphoric and meticulous book.”
Le Monde

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A Novel

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Goodreads Reviews