The Conversion

By Joseph Olshan

Format: Paperback

One night, two men waving guns break and enter their Paris hotel room, terrorizing Russell and his much older companion, a famous American poet named Edward Cannon. The intruders, not finding what they seemingly expected, leave without further incident. But the baffling, traumatic events overwhelm Cannon who dies in his sleep later that night.

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Arcadia Books

Arcadia Books deal in the best of world literature, today. Publishing translated fiction, literary fiction and crime.

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One night, two men waving guns and knives break and enter their Paris hotel room, terrorizing Russell and his much older companion, a famous American poet named Edward Cannon. The intruders, not finding what they seemingly expected, leave without further incident. But the baffling, traumatic events overwhelm Cannon who dies in his sleep later that night. Now Russell is left to ponder the meaning of the attack, what to do with the poet's unfinished, problematic memoir and, perhaps most importantly, how to reconstruct and move forward with his own life.Hearing of the disturbing circumstances of Cannon's death, an Italian writer, Marina Vezzoli, invites Russell to recuperate at her villa in Tuscany. But what at first seems like a generous invitation slowly reveals itself to be a calculated offer. As Russell's stay in Italy lengthens, he begins to realize that the people in his life are using or manipulating him, most of all the poet's New York publishers who, against the dying poet's wishes, are trying to acquire his unfinished manuscript.

Looming over everything is the long and fascinating legacy of Villa Guidi, where during Word War II a Jewish family hid in the subterranean floors, later undergoing a conversion to Catholicism. In an echo of this dramatic history, Russell is forced to undergo a conversion of his own in order to find redemption and meaning in his life.

Additional Information

Additional Information

Format Paperback
Imprint Arcadia Books
Publication Date 25 Jul 2008
ISBN 9781905147984
Number of Pages 288

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Press Reviews

'The novel has much to enchant, not only how wonderful it must be to swim like a god, but also an ability to address real intimacy in honest and vigorous ways. Sex, in particular, is written about with rare beauty in this novel, and Joseph Olshan enters some tender and uncharted territory to powerful effect.' - on Nightswimmer

'Joseph Olshan writes so vivaciously that his seventh novel ticks faster than a stopwatch. He loves his characters to bits, which is why they are so memorable. Humor. Feeling. Perfect Pitch. Olshan has it all.' - on In Clara's Hands

'I read the book a long time ago, but one thing has stayed with me: the way a trauma in childhood - though the memory is so blurred and disjointed - can affect us deeply without our even realizing it' - on The Waterline

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