Praise for Music for Wartime

“Though these stories alternate in time between WWII and the present day, they all are set, as described in the story “Exposition,” within “the borders of the human heart”—a terrain that their author maps uncommonly well.”
—Publisher’s Weekly, starred and featured review

“[An] excellent debut collection of stories . . . characterized by a striking blend of whimsy and poignancy, elegy and ebullience . . . [that] demonstrate an impressive range. . . . While some stories are straightforwardly realistic and others wildly fantastical, all are witty, rueful and wise. . . . I look forward with great anticipation . . . to anything else this immensely gifted writer produces.”
Priscilla Gilman, The Boston Globe

“Great, absorbing stuff… delivered with just the right measure of economy… The short story is the ideal venue for Makkai’s considerable talent, not only for drawing nuanced characterizations, but for contriving strange and fascinating premises. . . . With Music for Wartime, Makkai takes her place – one she deserves – among the artists with aplomb.”
—The Guardian

“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? The death of a circus elephant shapes generations of a small town; a passing remark ruins a plotted-out life. Our sense of history is probed, too, not without humor—Bach appears in a Manhattan living room one day, a spot of comfort in one woman’s post-9/11 life. In a series of shorter pieces, the author relates nuggets of family history and legend, including a story about young women in Budapest who used greasepaint to transform themselves into old women, in order to be spared at least one of war’s ugly realities.”
—The New Yorker 

“A beautiful book and a must-read . . . Rebecca Makkai is a rising literary star, whose short stories appeared just about everywhere before she turned to writing novels. So this is an exciting and exceptional return to the short story for Makkai, and for all of us.”
Vanity Fair

“Rebecca Makkai writes stories like houses: brick and mortar, but strangely alive. At their best, they fall together lightly, as if four walls and a roof should just happen to run into each other at the right place and the right time. More than a few are haunted.”
—The Chicago Tribune

“The heartbreak… feels particular, grainy: real. It’s a gut-punch that lands.”
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“Haunting . . . Seventeen stories with the impact of a quiver of arrows aimed at the heart.”

“As an adept of the particular and specific art of short stories, Makkai is indisputable, and she provides something that every writer should aspire to, beyond form and plot and setting and character and voice: Something, something that matters, to talk about.”

—The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Makkai is a musical writer with a strong voice, and this work is reminiscent of Elizabeth McCracken’s recent collection Thunderstruck, in tone if not in content. Themes of guilt, loss, survival, and memory infuse the entire book, which is rife with sentences that will stop you in your tracks with their strangeness and profundity.”
—Library Journal, starred review

“One of the most talented literary voices today… Quintessential Makkai—witty, intelligent, a little irreverent, but not afraid to venture into emotional territory.”

“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 

“Evident patience and care have been taken with these stories to tease out their meaning and emotion while retaining an admirable subtlety and suggestiveness… Makkai is unafraid to inject uncanny or curious elements into her narratives… We accept these bizarre situations thanks to Makkai’s confident control and her careful modulation of tone and pace. Ultimately, Makkai… finds her power in uniqueness and individuality.”
The Globe and Mail

“Music for Wartime… highlight[s] 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.”
The Dallas Morning News

“The stories are haunting and enchanting, wonderfully strange, and unforgettably gorgeous.”
—Book Riot (The Best Books of 2015 So Far)

“Makkai can also be brutally funny, especially in creating outlandish characters who nonetheless feel as though they could exist in reality… A set of funny, haunting short stories about love and war.”
—Shelf Awareness 

“This varied collection of short stories focuses on finding beauty in the darkest times. . . . These tales will delight and haunt you long after you have closed the book.”
Woman’s Day

“Makkai’s range… is nothing short of impressive: stories of war and destruction are juxtaposed with lighter-hearted ones on everything from love to reality television. Yet each and every story pulses with plentiful wit and heart, tying the collection together into one cohesive, stunning whole.”

“Richly imagined.”
Chicago Tribune, “Summer’s Best New Releases”

“[An] impressive first volume of stories.”
O, The Oprah Magazine, “The Season’s Best Literary Fiction”

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, “Summer books: 10 novels not to miss — and so much more”

W Magazine

“Makkai proved in her most recent novel, The Hundred-Year House, that she’s capable of crafting alluring, interwoven character studies. In Music for Wartime, she’s penned a series of short stories—three of which are based on legends from Hungary, where her family hails from. Spanning Berlin, Romania and present-day America, where true love can be found in front of a live audience, her short stories are as moving as they are varied.”
The Huffington Post

“Makkai’s Lorrie Moore-esque genius for floating bizarre and often very funny ideas land with gravitas…The lines between fiction and non-fiction feel inconsequential when the subject is the human condition, and when the stories are told so well.”
—The Winnipeg Free Press

“Makkai’s first short story collection demonstrates why the already-acclaimed novelist is also a master of this more succinct form. Each of the stories in the collection is vividly wrought and individually compelling, and features a precision and beauty that leaves the reader full of wonder.”
The L Magazine

“After two celebrated novels…Makkai returns to the genre that first got her noticed. The stories’ settings vary…[with the] author’s sharp, compassionate writing uniting them all.”
Chicago Magazine

“If any short story writer can be considered a rock star of the genre, it’s Rebecca Makkai… Her greatest strength may be never forgetting that she is a storyteller first, an artist second.”
The Kansas City Star

“Makkai’s stories serve as an urgent and artful reminder that oppression strives but never quite succeeds in stifling the creative spirit.”
—San Diego City Beat

“A masterful collection of short stories, the author’s intelligence and wit shining through in beautiful and insightful prose…These are the stories that ask to be read multiple times, stories that resonate and haunt.”
—The Masters Review

“Rebecca Makkai offers readers a treasure trove of literary work in her collection of 17 short stories… an intriguing blend of artistic imaginativeness and her Romanian* ancestry. These awe-inspiring stories, the author says, have been in the making for thirteen years. The satisfying result is a memorable collection by an amazing storyteller.”
[*Author’s note: I’m Hungarian, not Romanian, but I’ll take it.]

“”The Briefcase”… is a story that displays remarkable compression, force and agility, and is also one of the very few I’ve read that would fit just as snugly into Kafka’s oeuvre as it would into Amy Hempel’s or Joy Williams’.”
—Kevin Brockmeier in The Arakansas Times

“One of the best reading experiences that I’ve had this year.”
—Book Riot’s “All the Books” Podcast

“It’s not often you read a story collection with the range and depth of Rebecca Makkai’s Music for Wartime. The stories are about war and guilt and secrets, but also about romance and art and reality TV, and they come together, as the best collections do, as an assured and satisfying whole. It’s a wonderful book, haunting, funny, and wise.”
— Maile Meloy, author of Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It

“I have been waiting for this collection since 2008, when I read “The Worst You Ever Feel” and it basically took the top of my head off. Deeply intelligent, stylistically playful, full of razor wit and grave historical accounting, what is most enthralling about these stories is their insistence that the political and the personal are never separate categories, that art’s attempt to make sense of the senseless is at least as noble as it is doomed, and that atrocities large and small begin, as love does, in the human heart.”
— Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted

“Rebecca Makkai’s Music for Wartime is a collection of the first order. The stories diverge and coalesce, practically in conversation with one another, always hewing to the varied consolations of beauty in the midst of conflict. To read one is to crave the next, each story feeding a pang you didn’t quite know you had. Music for Wartime isn’t a song, it’s a sublime double-LP.”
— Smith Henderson, author of Fourth of July Creek

“Rebecca Makkai is one of our best writers—witty and precise, brilliant and compassionate—and every one of these stories contains all the depth and heartache of a doorstop-sized novel. I’ve been waiting for years for this book. Music for Wartime isn’t simply wonderful—it’s essential.”
— Molly Antopol, author of The Un-Americans, longlisted for the National Book Award

“Showcases the author’s talent for the short form.”
— The Millions, “Most Anticipated: The Great First-Half 2015 Book Preview”

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