& Fiction Booklist
Fiction with musical themesAnnotations are from Advance, the Ingram Book Magazine, unless noted.
- The Weaver and the Factory Maid
Author: Grabien, Deborah
Publisher: Minotaur $ 22.95 ISBN: 0312314221 Date: 2003
Haunted by the ghosts of characters memorialized in their songs, a pair of lovers must uncover the truth behind the ghosts' deaths. - Publisher Marketing.
Author: McCrumb, Sharyn
Publisher: Dutton $ 24.95 ISBN: 0525944885 Date: 2001
A song, passed down through the generations, carries a family's descendants through the settling of the American frontier, the Civil War, the coming of the railroads and into modern times, providing both solace in the present and a link to the past.
- The Clarninet Polka
Author: Maillard, Keith
Publisher: St Martins $ 24.95 ISBN: 0312308892
Kirkus Booklist LJ PW
This hard-edged, sweet-souled story of a heart's homecoming is deeply and authentically rooted in Polish-American culture. A remarkable novel from an important writer.
Suggested Reading: All Stars
- All the Lucky Ones Are Dead
Author: Haywood, Gar Anthony
Publisher: Putnam $ 23.95 ISBN: 0399145400
L.A. private eye Aaron Gunner investigates a rap artist's so-called suicide and comes face-to-face with some of the music business's most notorious power brokers - who don't seem to like Gunner's presence on the case.
Rock and Roll/Popular Music
- Reservation Blues
Author: Alexis, Sherman
The life of Spokane Indian Thomas Builds-the-Fire irrevocably changes when blues legend Robert Johnson miraculously appears on his reservation and passes the misfit storyteller his enchanted guitar. Inspired by this gift, Thomas forms Coyote Springs an all-Indian Catholic band who find themselves on a magical tour that leads from reservation bars to Seattle and New York - and deep within their own souls.
Author: Becker, Geoffrey
This debut novel from the 1995 winner of the Drue Heinz Award for Short Fiction focuses on a young man whose father abandons him at the age of 15 to pursue a life of rock-and-roll glory. Seven years later, the boy suddenly hears from his father, forcing him to forgive the disappointments of their past - and recognize that they have more in common than the boy cares to admit.
- A & R
Author: Flanagan, Bill
Publisher: Random House $ 23.95 ISBN: 0375502661
James Joyce meets Hunter S. Thompson" (Boston Globe), in this wise and wickedly funny story - written by a music industry veteran and senior VP of VH1 - about a new golden boy at a major record label who uncovers a plot to depose its founder.
Author: Gibson, William
The eagerly awaited, mind-bending new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Virtual Light and Neuromancer. Set in the 21st century, postquake city of Tokyo, Idoru tells, with trademark Gibsonian innovation, the story of Rei Toei, the idoru, a media star loved by all Japan. But does she really, physically exist?
- High Fidelity
Author: Hornby, Nick
In "as funny, compulsive and contemporary a first novel as you could wish for" (GQ), a young pop music junkie finds that his myriad diversions after the breakup with his longtime girlfriend are not as entertaining as he thought they would be. "A total howl". - Mirabella.
- The Exes
Author: Kennedy, Pagan
Four ex-lovers/current bandmates jam together amidst today's cutting-edge music scene, in this fresh, funky novel of love lost and fame gained by the celebrated author of Spinsters.
- Kill Me Tender: A Murder
Mystery Featuring Elvis Presley
Author: Klein, Daniel
Publisher: Minotaur $ 22.95 ISBN: 031226187x
The King is back! With fan club presidents dying mysteriously, Elvis himself steps in to find their killer.
- Be Cool
Author: Leonard, Elmore
With his unique combination of the good, the bad, and the unexpected, the bestselling author of Get Shorty gives readers a new Chili Palmer novel that twists and turns to the very end. From screen tests to jam sessions, from the Hills and the Valley to Hollywood and Vine, Be Cool is all new, all clever, and most definitely, all that.
- The Wishbones
Author: Perrotta, Tom
In The Wishbones, Perrotta's characters are nineties adults still clinging to their seventies dreams. This debut novel is a laugh-out-loud confessional about people who might be too old to rock 'n' roll but just can't imagine stopping.
- Ground Beneath Her Feet
Author: Rushie, Salman
Booklist Kirkus PW
Vina Apsara, a famous and much loved singer, is caught in a devastating earthquake and never seen again by human eyes. This is her story, and that of Ormus Cama, the lover who finds, loses, seeks, and again finds her, over and over, throughout his own extraordinary life in music.
- The Song Reader
Author: Tucker, Lisa
Publisher: Pocket/Downtown $ 12 (paper) ISBN: 0743464451
When two sisters are left alone after the death of their mother and the disappearance of their father, Mary Beth becomes the hero of both her younger sister and their entire town. She is a "song reader." She doesn't read palms or tarot cards; she reads people's secrets and desires from the songs they can't get out of their minds.
- Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys by Francesca Lia Block
- Boy Island by Joy Camden
- I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass by Paul Charles
- Rock Star by Jackie Collins
- Storyteller: Short Stories by Rock Stars edited by Greg Kihn
- The Hunger Bone: Rock & Roll Stories by Debra Marquart
- The Burned Woman by Edward Mathis
- Carp Fishing on Valium by Graham Parker
- Stiff in the Freezer by J.R. Ripley
- Tough Baby by Jesse Sublett
- Valentine by S.P. Somtow
- Music Lovers: A Harry Stoner Mystery by Jonathan Valin
- Ground Beneath Her Feet
Author: Carter, Charlotte
A poetry spouting, jazz-playing, French-speaking Black American Princess searches for her missing aunt in this sexy and hilarious mystery set in Paris, France.
- Such Sweet Thunder
Author: Carter, Vincent O.
Publisher: Steerforth $ 25.95 ISBN: 1586420585
Written in 1963 but never published, this literary portrait of black urban life in pre-World War II America, an era marred by racial segregation and relentless daily injustices, is told from the perspective of a young boy growing up during the 1920s and 1930s in Kansas City.
- Joplin's Ghost
Author: Due, Tananarive
Publisher: Atria $ 25 ISBN: 0743449037 Date: 2005
An acclaimed suspense writer's latest chilling tale examines how the daughter of a musician and jazz club owner finds her life changed when she becomes haunted by the ghost of Scott Joplin.
Suggested Reading: African American Stars | Ghosts
- The Best of Jackson Payne
Author: Fuller, Jack
Publisher: Knopf $ 25 ISBN: 0375405356
PW Booklist Library Journal
A musicologist sets out to explain the life and work of the tormented African-American jazz saxophone player, Jackson Payne. As he discovers the family secrets that tortured Payne and the musical doubts that haunted him, the musicologist begins to fathom the depths of his own obsessions.
Author: Fulmer, David
Publisher: Harcourt $ 23 ISBN: 0151010250 Date: 2005
In the rowdy red-light district of Storyville, four players of the new music they call "jass" have turned up dead. When Creole detective Valentin St. Cyr begins to investigate, he discovers every victim once played in the same band, and the only one left alive has gone into hiding.
Suggested Reading: New Orleans
- Rookery Blues
Author: Hassler, Jon
In 1969 Minnesota, the state college prepares for a winter term filled with draft-deferred students and misfit teachers. Then the Icejam Quintet is born - a jazz group featuring an eclectic mixture of students and teachers. Together, they create sweet music and experience the disharmony of sixties politics and sex.
Author: Huddle, David
- The Man with an Axe
Author: Jackson, Jon A.
Detroit Detective Sergeant "Fang" Mulheisen is about to begin an investigation into the mystery surrounding a headless corpse when a young kid arrives with an e-mail cartoon message addressed to Mulheisen. Soon the detective is being led on a scavenger hunt that takes him into modern jazz history, the Detroit police archives, and the notebook diaries of Grootka, his now-dead mentor.
- Shackling Water
Author: Mansbach, Adam
Publisher: Doubleday $ 22.95 ISBN: 0385502052
LJ Booklist Kirkus
In the tradition of James Baldwin and Ralph Ellison, Adam Mansbach captures the rhythms of jazz in a remarkable debut novel about a young man looking for his muse in Harlem.
Suggested Reading: Debuts
- The Fisher King
Author: Marshall, Paule
Publisher: Scribner $ 23 ISBN: 0684872838
- The Seven League Boots
Author: Murray, Albert
Booklist PW Kirkus
The break-out novel by an unrecognized master - "a fictional tale spinner in the grand Southern tradition" (Washington Post Book World). Told from the point of view of a young Alabama college graduate in the 1920's, this brilliant novel recounts the exploits of a legendary jazz composer and his band on a tour that becomes a heroic journey "equivalent to the seven league strides of heroes in rocking chair story times".
- Blue Bossa
Author: Schneider, Bart
A haunting debut novel inspired by the music and life of legendary trumpeter Chet Baker. In 1970s San Francisco, Ronnie Reboulet, a charming but emotionally distant man, struggles to make a life free of drugs and outside the music business. With the help of his wife and daughter, Ronnie attempts a comeback that will have readers rooting for him every step of the way.
Author: Turner, Frederick W.
Publisher: Counterpoint $ 25 ISBN: 1582432651
In a briefly affluent and deeply disenchanted postwar America, the Jazz Age erupts in gaudy glory. It and one of its most colorful icons, Bix Beiderbecke, are celebrated in this first novel by an acclaimed nonfiction writer.
Suggested Reading: Historical Fiction Stars
- Blue Bossa
Author: Weller, Anthony
The Polish Lover is an erotic novel of a love affair gone wrong. A young jazz clarinet player from Manhattan encounters an expatriate Polish beauty while on tour in New Zealand. The novel is about jazz as well as loving someone who turns out to be dangerous and deceptive and about the risks involved in playing music and falling in love. By the author of The Garden of the Peacocks.
Author: Zabor, Rafi
The scion of a long line of European circus bears (and the product of an amazing roll of the genetic dice), the Bear is eking out a living doing an (ugh) street dancing bear act with his friend and keeper, Jones. But what the Bear is really best at is blowing the sax. When he makes a bold foray out to jam at a New York club, the Bear's musical (and romantic) odyssey begins.
- Rhode Island Red and Drumstick by Charlotte Carter
Shattered Rhythms by Phyllis Knight
- Crossroad Blues
Author: Atkins, Ace
Nick Travers is an ex-New Orleans Saint turned blues historian at Tulane University who is headed deep into the Mississippi Delta to unravel two mysteries: one about the recent death of a colleague and the other surrounding the decades-old murder of blues legend Robert Johnson.
Author: Dubus, Andre
It is the summer of 1967 and Leo Suther is about to turn eighteen. This is the summer that everyone has something to teach Leo. His father warns him that 'life can turn on a dime.' Allie, his girlfriend, wants to teach him about love. Her father, the local communist and civil rights organizer, lectures him on politics and carpentry. And Ryder, a family friend, wants to show Leo the magic of the harmonics-harp of the blues.
- Dirty Bird Blues
Author: Major, Clarence
The acclaimed author of Such Was the Season and Juba to Jive: A Dictionary of African American Slang tells the story of Manfred Banks, a Chicago blues musician and blue-collar worker who drifts from Chicago to Omaha in the 1950's, struggling with domestic responsibilites and a racist America that assaults him at every turn.
- RL's Dream
Author: Mosley, Walter
The creator of the critically acclaimed Easy Rawlins mysteries further distinguishes himself with a memorable novel about the blues - as an expression of black poetry and black tragedy - and how they sit in judgement on the American experience.
- Bone Music
Author: Rodgers, Alan
- Leavin' Trunk Blues by Ace Atkins
- Steel Guitar by Linda Barnes
- Don't the Moon Look Lonesome: A Novel in Blues and Swing by Stanley
- Been Here and Gone: A Memoir of the Blues by David Dalton
- Mojo Hand by Greg Kihn
- A Simple Habana Melody:
From When the World Was Good
Author: Hijuelos, Oscar
Publisher: HarperCollins $ 24.95 ISBN: 0060175699
Kirkus LJ Booklist PW
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love returns to the world of music with this gorgeously written novel about one man's passion for his art, his family, and his country.
- The Big Ballad Jamboree
Author: Davidson, Donald
The Big Ballad Jamboree is Donald Davidson's only novel. He sets his story - the romance of country singer Danny MacGregor and ballad scholar Cissy Timberlake - in the fictional Appalachian town of Carolina City. It is the summer of 1949, midway between World War II and the full-scale birth of television. A state music teachers college is preparing for its major folk music festival. Seen through the eyes of a young man with a musical gift descended from mountain people, this is definitive fiction about a community struggling to embrace a modern economy without losing its folk heritage. As they are feeling the seismic cultural shift, Danny MacGregor's band is offered its big break to appear regularly on the Grand Ole Opry.
- The Devil's Dream
Author: Smith, Lee
The author of Oral History writes a magically entertaining epic about the popular world of country music - " a beautifully told saga of a Southern singing family down through the ages" (Boston Globe). " Her best so far" . - Pat Conroy.
- Too Long at the Dance by Mike Blakely
- Killer Diller by Clyde Edgerton
- I Still Miss My Man but My Aim is Getting Better by Sarah Shankman
- Jealous Heart (Kate Banning mystery series) by Cecilia
- Baby Would I Lie: A Romance of the Ozarks by Donald Westlake
Show Control, Coffin's Got the Dead Guy on the Inside, and Trouble Comes Back by Keith Snyder
Classical & Opera
- The Notorious Dr.
August: His Real Life and Crimes
Author: Bram, Christopher
Publisher: Morrow $ 26 ISBN: 0688175694
from the imagination that created Father of Frankenstein, the basis for the Academy Award-winning film Gods and Monsters, comes an emotionally riveting historical novel about an improvisational pianist who believes his music is sometimes inspired by the spirit world.
- Marrying Mozart
Author: Cowell, Stephanie
Publisher: Penguin $ 24.95 ISBN: 0670032689
"I wanted to write a novel in the spirit of his great operas, where many things can and do go wrong but in the end the characters come together singing that all is well. And I was fascinated by the period in his early twenties when he was no longer a prodigy and yet no one would offer him a living, and how he fell in with a family of four beautiful musical sisters. Between his possessive father and the sisters’ manipulative mother, it would be a miracle if he married any of them, but he did marry one. Which one and how it happened is the story of the book." - Stephanie Cowell
- Murder Duet
Author: Gur, Batya
Israeli policeman Michael Ohayon investigates the murders of the brothers and father of a woman he has been seeing, in the fourth novel in Gur's series of popular, intellectually challenging mysteries.
- Lucifer's Shadow
Author: Hewson, David
Publisher: Delacorte $ 21.95 ISBN: 0385337949 Date: 2004
When Daniel Forster, a young Englishman, arrives in Venice, he is soon drawn into a treacherous game of deception spanning three centuries, from the Venice of Vivaldi and Rousseau to the violence of the present day.
Suggested Reading: Venice
- Bel Canto
Author: Patchett, Ann
Publisher: HarperCollins $ 25 ISBN: 0060188731 Date: 2001
From the bestselling author of The Magician's Assistant comes a marvelous novel of love, opera, and terrorism set in South America. Two couples, complete opposites, fall in love; sexual identities become confused; and a horrific imprisonment is transformed into an unexpected heaven on earth.
Suggested Reading: Reading Group Stars
Author: Segal, Susan
Publisher: Bridge Works $ 23.95 ISBN: 1882593456 Date: 2001
A woman's tragedy, unwanted celebrity and an opera star benefactor with less than noble motives all figure into this unusual tale of chance, fate and operatic lives.
- Equal Music
Author: Seth, Vikram
The author of the international bestseller A Suitable Boy returns with a deeply romantic tale of two gifted musicians, one of whom is going deaf, set against a magical backdrop of Europe and classical music.
- Music and Silence
Author: Tremain, Rose
PW Kirkus Booklist In the year 1629, a young English lute player named Peter Claire arrives at the Danish court where he must find the path that will realize his hopes and save his soul. Short-listed for the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award.
- Girl, 20: A Novel by Kingsley Amis
- Too Many Notes, Mr. Mozart by Bernard Bastable
- Midnight Hour Encores by Bruce Brooks
- Cosi Fan Tutti: An Aurelio Zen Mystery by Michael Dibdin
- Poor Butterfly: Toby Peters by Stuart M. Kaminsky
- The Small Rain by Madeline L'Engle
- Beyond Desire: A Novel Based on the Life of Felix and Cecille Mendelssohn by
- The Venitian Mask by Rosalind Laker
- The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
- A Cadenza for Caruso by Barbara Paul
- Cry to Heaven by Anne Rice
- The Soloist by Mark Salzman
- Frost the Fiddle and Hot Ticket by Janice Weber
- Sacred and Profane: A Novel of the Life and Times of Mozart by
- The Gutbucket Quest by Piers Anthony
- Songmaster by Orson Scott Card
- The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos
- The Lark and the Wren by Mercedes Lackey
- Painted Turtle: Woman with a Guitar by Clarence Major
- Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey
- Accordian Crimes by Annie E. Proulx
- Family Blood by David Ritz
- Phantam Banjo by Elizabeth Scarborough
Bomp Music Fiction Lists
ClassicalNet - Books about Music
FictionL list of music related titles - compiled by Barry Trott and the FictionL list
Also of interest:
Worthy of um, note:
Annotated lists of books receiving at least one starred review from one of four major review sources: Booklist, Kirkus, LJ and PW.