By Auguste Corteau
About the BookA few hours after the death of Stalin is announced on the radio, spreading panic and bereavement throughout the Soviet Union, Pyotr Rabinovich – Russia’s most cherished composer, a famously reclusive man and lifelong Party pet – is found dead on a park bench in the heart of wintry Moscow, the victim of an apparent suicide.
At the same time, a recording of his swansong symphony, Sixteen, has been smuggled in an unknown number of copies across several Eastern-bloc borders and is broadcasted nonstop by illegally-operating stations, causing a bizarre, and possibly ruinous, outbreak: the en masse defection of its audience, a rapidly-growing crowd of people who, moments after listening to Rabinovich’s parting musical conundrum, drop everything and abandon their homes and homelands in a state of blind frenzy.
As the mystery of this widespread wave of civil disobedience threatens to destabilize the orphaned USSR, Alexei Samoilenko, Rabinovich’s disciple, protégé, and closest friend, is ordered by the Party to investigate the inexplicable phenomenon, along with what truly lies in the heart of Sixteen – an answer to the riddle of the music’s potentially destructive power.
Thus begins a quest that will set Alexei on a journey across the continents, in order to trace Rabinovich’s steps while he worked, in utter secrecy, on his final work – an adventure which in turn will uncover a deeper mystery that dates from the composer’s little-known youth and the bloody days of the Revolution.
A playful tale of alternative history, a frantically-paced whodunit and a harrowing fable on the riddle that is music, Sixteen is a story for all the people who would give up their lives for what they hold dear in a heartbeat – an epic lovesong of a book.