The Noise of Time
by Julian Barnes
The near-impossibility of maintaining artistic integrity under Soviet rule is explored in this fictional portrait of composer Dmitri Shostakovich. Though Shostakovich survives the potentially fatal experience of Stalin denouncing his work, the price he pays is great. To keep his family and friends (as well as himself) safe, he must submit to the political forces and represent himself as a good party member, creating works that the dictator deems appropriate. Told through vignettes of his career and personal life, this is an empathetic study of an artist torn between his personal convictions and the reality of being used for political purposes.