An appropriate subtitle for this stunningly original novel would be “A Study in Moral Turpitude.” Grinberg recounts here the rise and climb of Hermann Kapp-Dortmunder (who added the second name when he found out that Kapp is slang for “condom”), who began as a young pianist in a backwater of Austria-Hungary and rose to prominence as a conductor during the German Nazi regime. Along the way he alienates almost everyone he can’t use to become one of the most unlikable protagonists in recent fiction, with only his dazzling talent pulling him through.
The author peels off society’s veneer and shockingly portrays the poison of anti-Semitism that gripped Europe during the era. Cameo appearances are made by the likes of composer Richard Strauss, conductor Herbert von Karajan, Nazi bigwig Josef Goebbels, and the Führer himself, lending depth and resonance to the tale.
The only question is, Why didn’t one of the big houses snap this up? Proof positive that we still need the small presses. Hats off to Grinberg and to Dragon Press for giving us this book.
— Edward Cone, Library Journal, January 2007