The most ambitious and daring novel novel yet from Booker Prize-shortlisted Philip Hensher.
‘A novel that's almost fizzy to the touch ... A performance of extraordinary flair and majesty from a writer who seems capable of anything’ Guardian
An astonishing novel, ‘The Emperor Waltz’ draws together various narrative strands into a compelling symphonic whole. In a third-century desert settlement on the fringes of the Roman Empire, a new wife becomes fascinated by a cult that is persecuted by the Emperor Diocletian. In 1922, Christian, a young artist, travels to Weimar to begin his studies at the Bauhaus, where the avant-garde confronts conservative elements around it. With postwar Germany in turmoil, while the Bauhaus attempts to explore radical ways of thinking and living, Christian finds that love will change him for ever. And in 1970s London Duncan uses his inheritance to establish the country’s first gay bookshop in the face of opposition from the neighbours and victimisation by the police.
Delving deep into the human spirit to explore connections between love, sanctity, commitment and virtue, Philip Hensher takes as his subject small groups of men and women, tightly bound together, trying to change the world through the example of their lives. ‘The Emperor Waltz’ is an absorbing echo-chamber of a novel, innovative and compelling, that explores what it means for us to belong to each other.
Philip Hensher is a columnist for the Independent, arts critic for the Spectator and a Granta Best of Young British novelist. He has written eight novels, including ‘The Mulberry Empire’ and the Booker-shortlisted ‘The Northern Clemency’, and one collection of short stories. He lives in South London.