The Variations: Book summary and reviews of The Variations by John Donatich

The Variations

A Novel

by John Donatich

The Variations by John Donatich X
The Variations by John Donatich
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2012
    288 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A compelling sympathy of the faiths that fill the gap between who we set out to be and who we ultimately become

A powerful debut novel about a priest who has lost his church, his mentor, and, most upsetting, his ability to pray. How can Father Dominic protect or guide his parish when everything he loves falls away? How can he counsel Dolores, a troubled teenager prone to emotional panic and spiritual monomania? Or James, a promising African American pianist, struggling to realize his artistic ambitions by bringing his own voice to a piece that has been played by the world's most brilliant pianists, Bach's Goldberg Variations.

Into this malaise comes Andrea, a sophisticated New York editor attracted at first by Dom's blog and then by the man himself. Dom's journey from the cloth into the secular world will offer carnal knowledge, but also something deeper, a more resistant knowledge as life fails to offer happiness or redemption. In prose both searching and muscular, John Donatich's The Variations has located the right metaphor for our spiritual crisis in this story of one man's spiritual disillusion and ache for self-knowledge.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Donatich manages to avoid clichés in what could have been another trendy defamation of the Catholic Church, for Father Dominic emerges as a fully fleshed character, both tormented and lost." - Kirkus Reviews

"The plot may seem a bit sluggish to some readers, but this first novel by Yale University Press director Donatich explores with considerable insight the intriguing premise of a man of the cloth in spiritual crisis." - Booklist

"Though the heaviness of Donatich's setting and characters could have been lightened with a touch of humor, this is a solid debut." - Publishers Weekly

"For those interested in the place of religious faith in the modern world, this novel provides food for thought and discussion." - Library Journal

"Catholic writers in America have not found much excitement in theology. John Donatich goes a long way towards repairing that lack with this beautiful novel about a contemporary priest who can't help contemplating the failure of his rundown urban church as his own inner failure... The author has a poet's feel for image, which he confers upon his priest with breathtaking effect... There is genuine suspense, a sense of life or death importance, in this thoughtful novel about what Father Dominic will choose to do as well as about the fates of his parishioners." - Jaimy Gordon, author of the National Book Award winning Lord of Misrule

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Author Information

John Donatich

John Donatich is the director of the Yale University Press. His essays and occasional pieces have appeared in Harper's and the The Atlantic Monthly. This is his first novel.

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