If you are Canadian, you have undoubtedly already read Us Conductors by Sean Michaels. I think everyone got it for Christmas. And even if you haven’t read it, you have heard amazing things about it and probably gave it to somebody for Christmas. It won the Giller after all, and for Canadians that is a big endorsement.
So this review is dedicated to our American neighbors. Go read this book now!! If my spidey senses are correct, then I’d say that Us Conductors is virtually unknown south of the border. THIS MUST CHANGE, and here’s why.
It is a classic American story. Russian Leon Theremin comes to New York in the 1920s to show off his musical instrument, the theremin (it’s that wacky instrument that makes a deeeeOYZA sound). Little does he know, that he will be sucked into the world of espionage in the years leading up to the Cold War. Then suddenly, everything falls apart as he is called back to the Motherland.
If that wasn’t enough to grab your attention, the writing is also breathtaking. I loved it. I’m now nursing one serious book hangover. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to read another book for a while. Yeah, it was that bad.
Who would like this book? The reason everyone in Canada was issued Us Conductors for Christmas is because of its mass appeal. I don’t know who wouldn’t like this book. It’s got science, history, intrigue, romance, American excess, Russian penal camps. It’s got everything. I really want to see Sean Michaels make a splash south of the border, so please Americans, buy his book.
Sold! After such a persuasive review this one has to go on my list.
Don’t get too excited – it’s not available in the UK yet. Michaels has hinted that it will be at some point and that he may be at the Edinburgh Book Fest. Keeping my fingers crossed!
Sounds worth the wait, though.
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I like the angle you took in your review. And, I agree that this book has wide appeal, which is especially nice in a Giller Prize winner. Not all of them are.
Thanks Tanya. I was really hesitant about reading this book. The summary just didn’t appeal. However, you have changed my mind and I shall add it to my list immediately.
Well, that’s pressure. I can only hope you like it.
I have to be the only Canadian who hasn’t read it yet ;_; Almost picked it up over the Christmas holiday and then I didn’t for whatever reason…Anyway, great review! Will most certainly have to pick it up at some point now 😉
I just found out this was published by a small press here last year after reading Naomi’s review. I wonder if it will be re-released by one of the big five after getting so much attention in Canada.
I really hope so.
It’s on my list . . . Really looking forward to it now.
I’m a bad Canadian. I didn’t get it for Christmas, I haven’t read it and I haven’t gifted it to anyone else. I keep seeing it in stores (obviously) and I’ve read the first couple of pages and still I haven’t taken the plunge. I will try and be better so I don’t have to hand in my passport!
I’m relieved that you enjoyed it so much. Whenever we really talk up a book I’m afraid that we’re going to get, “What the hell were you guys talking about? This sucked!” I’m glad to see that our book judging faculties remain unimpaired. (He says, as though Write Reads was the only reason you read the book) – Kirt
Now I just have to listen to your podcast.
SOLD! Seriously. I went straight to Amazon and downloaded it to my Kindle. 🙂 I’m going to hate myself if the library has a copy (I suspect they don’t). 🙂
Also, when are publishers going to get with it and just do worldwide release dates. It’s dumb that it’s not available in the UK yet.
I know. I can’t tell you how often we are left waiting for books over here in the UK!
I’m so glad this got you out of your slump! But now, a book hangover! We never win ;).
I really have to get to reading this one! Looking forward to it :).
In my case at least, you’re right! I’d never heard of this one. It’s hard for me to say no to a book that involves science, so I’ll definitely keep it on my radar 🙂
Just came back to tell you that you were spot on about this one – I just finished it (and promptly purchased the non-fiction title mentioned in the author’s notes at the end). Absolutely brilliant.
Theramin was just such an interesting guy. In hindsight, i think i liked the second half of the book even better than the first half.
I’m here in Canada and haven’t read it yet — nor do I have copy. I was surprised when it won the Giller over Toews’s book as I hadnt heard much about it, but I like your review of it so I will add it to my TBR stack. It’s premise definitely sounds different.
I’ve taken a look at your blog, and really enjoyed it. I also think you’d be a great candidate for Us Conductors given your interest in music as well. I was shocked that it won the Giller as well, but now that I’ve read it I can see why.
Ooh, this sounds fascinating!
You have me intrigued… adding it to my tbr list. Clearly the hype hasn’t yet made it to Oz 🙂
That is because you can’t even get it here yet!!! grrr
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