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The Crooked Maid: A Novel Audiobook, by Dan Vyleta Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Dan Vyleta Narrator: Kate Reading Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2013 ISBN: 9781482940930
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Graham Greene meets Dostoevsky in a thrilling and atmospheric story of guilt and restitution set in postwar Vienna.

Vienna, 1948. The war is over, and as the initial phase of de-Nazification winds down, the citizens of Vienna struggle to rebuild their lives amid the rubble.

Anna Beer returns to the city she fled nine years earlier after discovering her husband’s infidelity. She has come back to find him and, perhaps, to forgive him. Traveling on the same train from Switzerland is eighteen-year-old Robert Seidel, a schoolboy summoned home to his stepfather’s sickbed and the secrets of his family’s past.

As Anna and Robert navigate an unrecognizable city, they cross paths with a war-widowed American journalist, a hunchbacked young servant girl, and a former POW whose primary purpose is to survive by any means—and to forget. Meanwhile, in the shells of burned-out houses and beneath the bombed-out ruins, a ghost of a man, his head wrapped in a red scarf, battles demons from his past and hides from a future deeply uncertain for all.

In The Crooked Maid, Dan Vyleta returns to the shadows of war-darkened Vienna, proving himself once again “a magical storyteller, master of the macabre” (David Park).

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Impressive…If you enter [the] novel looking for a traditional murder mystery, prepare to be surprised: Vyleta is as interested in upsetting the expectations of genre as he is in engaging with them…This is Vyleta’s world, and entirely his own. Every gesture is so acutely rendered that we enter a kind of eerie parallel world almost beyond reality. This is not just the past: it is the past as seen fractured and magnified through a lens. It is a place of unremitting strangeness, as real and as true to its own logic as those of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go or Tom McCarthy’s Remainder.”

    Guardian (New York)

  • “Guilt-drenched and violent incidents (physical and emotional) abound in this early-Cold-War novel, while Vyleta intricately links the numerous characters. Some readers may balk at the surfeit of coincidence, but the author interconnects everyone so deftly that he puts the blade to coincidence, or, better yet, incorporates coincidence so organically that it becomes both a theme and character in the story.”

    National Post (Ontario)

  • “Well crafted…should appeal to fans of writers like Heinrich Böll.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “The novel has some trappings of a murder mystery but is more of a psychological novel, as the characters—from the eponymous crippled maid to the war-enriched matriarch—try to ferret out the truth from others while guarding their own secrets. This novel conjures up the stifling atmosphere of shame and deception of the postwar period and hints at escape through Vienna’s own ‘talking cure’—openness and honesty.”

    Booklist

  • Shortlisted for the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize

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About the Author

Dan Vyleta is the son of Czech refugees who emigrated to Germany in the late 1960s. He holds a PhD in history from King’s College, Cambridge. Vyleta is the author of several novels, including Pavel & I; The Quiet Twin, which was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize; and The Crooked Maid, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and won the J. I. Segal Award. An inveterate migrant, Vyleta has lived in Germany, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. He currently resides in Stratford-upon-Avon in England.

About the Narrator

Kate Reading is an Audie Award–winning narrator and has received dozens of Earphones Awards. She has been named by AudioFile magazine as a “Voice of the Century,” as well as the Best Voice in Science Fiction & Fantasy in 2008 and 2009 and Best Voice in Biography & Culture in 2010. She is also a theater actor in the Washington, DC, area and has been a member of the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company since 1987. Her work onstage has been recognized by the Helen Hayes Awards Society, among others.