Fic­tion

Exile Music

  • From the Publisher
September 1, 2019

Based on an over­looked part of World War II his­to­ry, Exile Music tells the sto­ry of a fam­i­ly of Jew­ish Vien­nese musi­cians who flee the Nazis in 1939 to find refuge in the moun­tains of Bolivia. There, they are con­front­ed with alti­tude sick­ness, new lan­guages, new cul­tures, and even­tu­al­ly, some of the Nazis they sought to escape. While young Orly and her father use music to weave togeth­er their past and present lives, Orly’s moth­er aban­dons singing. She grows increas­ing­ly dis­tant, har­bor­ing a secret that could put their entire fam­i­ly at risk again. When unex­pect­ed vis­i­tors arrive in their new home­land, they force Orly to choose where she ulti­mate­ly belongs. Between 10,000 and 20,000 Jew­ish refugees found their way to Bolivia dur­ing the war years, many of them artists and musi­cians. Very lit­tle has been writ­ten about this com­mu­ni­ty. Jen­nifer Steil lived in Bolivia for four years, meet­ing some remain­ing sur­vivors and their descen­dants. Their sto­ries inspired her book.

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