The Phoenix Song, by John Sinclair
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A young violin prodigy grows up in Harbin and Shanghai amidst the absurd and often deadly politics of mid-century China. Under the dual influences of her revolutionary parents and the White Russian intellectuals who are her tutors (and who provide her with a link, personal and tragic, to the composer Dmitri Shostakovich) she is drawn into a precarious world of ideology and espionage where music must serve not only ‘the masses’, but also the unpredictable whims and grand strategies of great leaders. Moving between China, Europe and New Zealand, the young protagonist learns how music and its artefacts link individuals across time in a chain alternately transcendent and tragic, and encounters the compromises that talent, fate and family force upon her.