A Goodreads “Hot Book” November Selection A BookPage Top Pick for December “Framing a love story around a long-durational performance work, where the passage of time is essential, is a profoundly original idea. I loved this book.”—Marina Abramović “The Museum of Modern Love s a light, easy novel, but it does shed insight into the mysterious Abramović, her personal life, and her artistic vision, as well as the fictionalized characters whose struggles mirror everyday realities.”—Vanity Fair “Rose celebrates the transformative power of art with an artful construct of her own . . . [Rose] displays a deep appreciation of art and a deft ability to blend fact, fiction, abstract ideas, and sentiment that recalls Ali Smith's How to Be Both.”—NPR “Rose uses Levin to explore the profound ways in which art impacts life, grapples with questions about the purpose of art, and reveals the intense ways in which art and love and life intersect, and how that beautiful convergence is at the heart of what it means to be human.” —Nylon “This is a captivating story on the improbability of life, the power of art to transform our pain, a meditation on the fluidity of time, and the ruse of human separation.”—Marlene Kelly, Amazon.com “Over the centuries, few things have been written about as much or as often as art and love. In her profound new novel, Australian author Heather Rose becomes the latest in a long line of writers, thinkers, philosophers, and artists to explore the uniquely human topics . . . The Museum of Modern Love is a tender meditation on art, love, grief, and life.” —Bustle “Rose has woven a rich tapestry of plot and characters . . . The result is an unusual and lively work of fiction.” —Newsday “The Museum of Modern Love interrogates what it is that drives artists to create—and the power of their creations on those who allow themselves to truly look at them.” —Book Reporter “Intensely introspective . . . acts as both a compassionate biography of Abramović and a probing look at the nature of art, love and humanity.” —amNewYork “This captivating work explores the meaning of art in our lives and the ways in which it deepens our understanding of ourselves. As Hannah Rothschild did in The Improbability of Love, Australian author Rose also combines intriguing characters with a laser-sharp focus on art to produce a gem of a novel.”—Library Journal, starred review “A meditation on love and creativity. In an ambitious admix of real-life figures, memorable fictional characters, and a ghost(!) or two, Rose guides an exploration of how best to live and, with distinction, how art might assist . . . Special kudos to the author for a pedantry-free examination of art’s ability to change lives—and for this novel’s tacit implications of the vanishing space between fact and fiction.”—The New York Journal of Books “Clever, genre-bending . . . A portrait of human desire and human failing, but perhaps most profoundly, human striving for something greater than self. Rose’s melancholy book resonates with emotion, touching on life’s great dilemmas—death, vocation, love, art.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review “Deeply involving . . . profound . . . emotionally rich and thought-provoking.”—Booklist, starred review “A lush tone poem to the life of art and art in life, The Museum of Modern Love coruscates with captivating energy . . . Incisive, beautiful, and precise.”—Foreword Reviews, starred review “The Museum of Modern Love is an engaging, multifaceted meditation on the meaning of life and art. Rose sets this exploration in the context of one man’s compelling midlife search for direction as he observes Abramovic’s fleeting art, which the novel intriguingly brings back to life. This is a brilliant find for any reader who enjoys grappling with the larger questions of life and literature, and it is an excellent choice for book clubs seeking thought-provoking discussion.”—BookPage “Tremblingly earnest…a bold proposition—Rose does not shy away from grappling with questions about the meaning and purpose of art…The real power of the book, though, lies not in its philosophizing but in the unsteady tenderness between its characters.”—Kirkus Reviews “Through meditating on Abramović’s life and artwork, Rose’s The Museum of Modern Art encapsulates the relationship between art and love, and its captivating effects on the lives of many.”—Dazed Magazine “Rather like Abramović’s work, The Museum of Modern Love is breathlessly mystical, embarrassingly earnest . . . If the way she writes about it can strike insiders as naïve, it’s also fresh and unexpectedly inventive—naïve in the best way. Perhaps unintentionally, Rose has produced a fascinating experiment in art writing. Rose . . . exploits the forking paths of free indirect discourse, its alternation of impersonal exposition and interior monologues from different characters, to show the myriad contingencies of viewer response to a single work.”—4Columns “A reimagining of the circumstances surrounding [“The Artist is Present”]. Both thoughtful and moving, the story explores connection, hope and humanity.”—Orange County Register “This book was a new experience for me. It’s the first book that I’ve read that blends fact and fiction. It has fictional characters alongside with real life characters. It’s literature mixed in with a bit of biography. It has true story elements in novel form. This is a refreshing change from ordinary fiction and I really liked it …thought provoking and unusual.”—Read This, Not That “A glorious novel, meditative and special in a way that defies easy articulation.”—Hannah Kent, author of Burial Rites “A deliciously inventive tale of the New York art scene, swirling with complex characters and connections, posing questions about how we should live, about art's ability to change our lives, and about the ways art changes the artists who create it.”—B. A. Shapiro, author of The Collector's Apprentice “From its conception to its last page, this book challenges our perceptions of where life ends and art begins.”—The Australian Winner of the 2017 Margaret Scott Prize - Tasmanian Premier's Literary Prizes Winner of the 2017 Christina Stead Prize for Fiction - NSW Premier's Literary Awards Winner of the 2017 Stella Prize Shortlisted for the 2017 Australian Literature Society Gold Medal Shortlisted for the 2017 University of Queensland Fiction Book Award
Artist Marina Abramovic's marathon 2010 performance at the Museum of Modern Art becomes the focus of Rose's tremblingly earnest novel, the Australian writer's first novel for adults to be published in the U.S.
"This is not a story of potential," announces the ominously angelic narrator who hovers over the novel, half muse and half ghost. "It is a story of convergence." And so we meet Arky Levin, a noted composer of film scores, who has found himself unmoored after separating from his beloved wife. The circumstances are complicated: Incapacitated from a genetic condition, she has retreated to a home in the Hamptons, given their medical-student daughter power of attorney, and ordered Arky never to see her. It is in this state that he finds his way to MoMA, where Abramovi? is staging The Artist Is Present, for which she sits, still and in silence, as audience members take turns sitting across from her. There he meets Jane, a tourist and recent widow transfixed by the performance. She is not alone. There is Brittika, a Dutch graduate student writing her dissertation on Abramovic. There is Healayas, an art critic and old friend of Arky's—once, she was the girlfriend of his longest-time collaborator, who betrayed them both. The performance is the gravitational pull of the novel, the point of convergence; no one emerges unchanged. Abramovic, too, is a character here: Large swathes of the book contend with her childhood and previous work, situating The Artist Is Present in her past. (Abramovic gave Rose permission to use her as a character.) It's a bold proposition—Rose does not shy away from grappling with questions about the meaning and purpose of art—but too often, the answers to those questions tend to feel like platitudes about art and suffering. "Art will wake you up," Abramovic's childhood tutor announces. "Art will break your heart." Art, Jane muses, offers "a kind of access to a universal wisdom." The real power of the book, though, lies not in its philosophizing but in the unsteady tenderness between its characters.
A book that attempts to walk the thin line between the trite and the profound—and sometimes succeeds.
In 2010, over a period of 75 days, real-life performance artist Marina Abramovic presented The Artist Is Present, in which she sat on a wooden chair at a table in the atrium of New York's Museum of Modern Art and stared into the eyes of the participants who lined up to sit across from her. This is not so much her story as it is that of the exhibit's fictional participants. Prominent among them is Arky Levin, a film composer seeking inspiration for his latest project, whose wife has moved into long-term care after suffering a stroke. Sitting nearby is recent widow and art teacher Jane Miller, who came to New York seeking solace and is mesmerized by the performance, by other audience members like Levin, and by the sitters, many of whom are moved to tears by the experience. VERDICT This captivating work explores the meaning of art in our lives and the ways in which it deepens our understanding of ourselves. As Hannah Rothschild did in The Improbability of Love, Australian author Rose also combines intriguing characters with a laser-sharp focus on art to produce a gem of a novel. [See Prepub Alert, 5/14/18.]—Barbara Love, formerly with Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont.