While clearing out his great aunt Dorle Jarmel’s midtown Manhattan apartment after her death, author David Winner, a 2009 National Book Award nominee and winner of the Gival Press Novel Award, discovers artifacts of her storied existence: notes from opera stars, love letters, and artifacts from the Middle East of the 1930’s.
Dorle had been a co-founder of Angel Records and a prominent figure in the mid-century classical music world. But the more he learns about her life, the more complicated her story becomes—a twisted puzzle full of fascism and fraud and a record of a young woman grappling with her attraction to lovers with hair-raising political ties.
As Winner soon discovers, Dorle, an Orthodox Jew, had a tumultuous affair with an American reporter named John Carter, who was connected to Nazi propaganda before World War II. She later married Dario Soria, a Jewish immigrant who escaped the Holocaust, and together they established Angel Records. They supported black opera singers and fought against racial discrimination. However, Dorle’s celebration of Nazi-associated musicians and her questionable associations confront the narrator with their own complicity and raise ethical dilemmas.
Equal parts fictionalized memoir and biography in which the narrator and the subject are both boldly present, Master Lovers is a powerful work of family discovery, rooted in a bygone Midtown Manhattan and involving artists and politicians from around the world.
Advance Praise for MASTER LOVERS
“With consummate skill, [Winner] builds a seamless narrative, blending Dorle’s love letters and his own research, filling the gaps by relying on his imagination. The result is an engrossing story about the life and times of a singular woman who lived life to the fullest. Master Lovers is a fascinating “fictional memoir” of a trailblazing great aunt and her mysteries.”
Publisher’s Weekly/Booklife, in a starred review designating MASTER LOVERS as an Editor’s Pick
“This book is a brilliant concoction, equal to the ingredients that might have been combined.
in Dorle’s cocktail shaker: fact, fiction, revelation, and riddles. It has a sad ending, though one that is so kind. The tenderness broke my heart.”
Ann Beattie, PEN/Malamud Award winner, Rea Award winner, and recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Excellence
“Master Lovers lives long in my memory after reading it, and my mind comes back to it again and again. It’s the mixing of personal letters with the events, intrigue, and personality of the times, as well as the related story of uncovering Dorle’s life, that really grips the reader. I flew through it, hoping to discover more about an improbable life. I can’t recommend it enough, and it will be studied by historians and story lovers alike as a great testament to life and love.”
Sean O’Driscoll, bestselling author of The Accidental Spy and Heiress, Rebel, Vigilante, Bomber: The Extraordinary Life of Rose Dugdale
“Through compassion, doggedness, imagination, and an utter absence of sentimentality, David Winner gives us an unforgettable portrait of both a spirited, flawed, mysterious woman and a fascinating era that is no more. Master Lovers is a gem.”
Clifford Thompson, author of What It Is: Race, Family, and One Thinking Black Man’s Blues and Big Man and the Little Men: A Graphic Novel
About David Winner
David Winner is the author of three novels: Enemy Combatant, Tyler’s Last and The Cannibal
of Guadalajara, winner of the 2009 Gival Press Novel Award and nominated for the National Book Award. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, Fiction, The Iowa Review, The Millions, The Kenyon Review and other publications in the U.S. and the U.K. He is the fiction editor of The American, a monthly magazine based in Rome, a senior editor at Statorec magazine, and a regular contributor to The Brooklyn Rail. Most recently, he was the co-editor of Writing the Virus: Work from Statorec Magazine.
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