Bel Canto is the story of a birthday party gone wrong. Mr. Hosokawa, the president of a large Japanese corporation, is convinced to celebrate his birthday in an impoverished South American country which is so desperate for foreign investment that it coerces Hosokawa's favourite soprano to come and sing for him. A botched kidnapping attempt at the party turns into a months-long hostage crisis, the party guests trapped in the home of the country's vice-president as the government and the terrorists exchange increasingly impossible demands. Out of this nightmarish situation comes love and compassion, connection between people from different worlds, and a strange, beautiful tale, as the hostages and terrorists gradually become companions in a dreamlike existence whose days are structured around the beauty of opera.
I'm not sure what more I can say about this book that won't sound like one big long gush, but I'll try. It's beautifully written, the characters are very real, the story is compelling and just a tiny bit magical and somehow, all together, it works very very well. This is a truly immersive work of fiction, something lush to wrap around yourself like a big, soft blanket on a cold day, so that you become completely unaware of the world around you and in fact would very much prefer that it leave you alone.
Hmm... I think I'm gushing now! You can probably tell that I liked this book a lot and think that you should go and read it. When you do, come back and leave a comment in the blog so I'll get to hear what you thought. :-)