One novel, two questions

March 4, 2019

As my novel J SS Bach touches publication day, I ask myself a couple of questions. And answer them … another day would bring other answers, but these are also true

What does J SS Bach want to achieve?

My musician character, Otto, sees his family wiped out. He sees a photo of a Nazi family and wishes them dead. Then he sees how the seed of murder has been placed in him. I write about the aftermath of wars, and how the effects are passed down through generations. Characters come to see how much they are shaped by wars that went before them. It leaves them raw, and they come to cope with that.

Music’s a huge theme. How did you approach it?

It starts from the old riddle, how does a Nazi commit atrocities yet love Bach and Schubert? J SS BACH examines that, and George Steiner’s question of how art could exist after the Holocaust. I do it through the vehicle of a young Jewish musician who survives when his family does not. He had to play the music of J. S. Bach to survive. As a composer, for his original music to retain meaning for him, it has to encompass a past he is terrified of facing.

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