Author(s): Kim Echlin
"I lost count of how many times I was caught off-guard by the poignancy of this novel . . . This story of motherhood and friendship, anchored by two extraordinary heroines, will stay with me for a long time."--Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner
"A love song to music itself." - The Globe and Mail
Fatherless Katherine carries the stigma of her mixed-race background through an era that is hostile to her and all she represents. It is only through music that she finds the freedom to temporarily escape and dream of a better life for herself, nurturing this hard-won refuge throughout the vagaries of unexpected motherhood and an absent husband, and relying on her talent to build a future for her family.
Orphaned Mahsa also grows up in the shadow of loss, sent to relatives in Pakistan after the death of her parents. Struggling to break free, she escapes to Montreal, leaving behind her first love, Kamal. But the threads of her past are not so easily severed, and she finds herself forced into an arranged marriage. For Mahsa, too, music becomes her solace and allows her to escape from her oppressive circumstances.
When Katherine and Mahsa meet, they find in each other a kindred spirit as well as a musical equal, and their lives are changed irrevocably. Together, they inspire and support one another, fusing together their cultures, their joys, and their losses--just as they collaborate musically in the language of free-form, improvisational jazz.
Under the Visible Life takes readers from the bustling harbour of Karachi to the palpable political tension on the streets of 1970s Montreal to the smoky jazz clubs of New York City. Deeply affecting, vividly rendered, and sweeping in scope, it is also an exploration of the hearts of two unforgettable women: a meditation on how hope can remain alive in the darkest of times when we have someone with whom to share our burdens.
An unforgettable story of two women's lives transformed by the most powerful kind of love there is: friendship.
I lost count of how many times I was caught off-guard by the poignancy of this novel. Every page pits hope against despair. Every page screams, fight for your dreams, you are lost without them. This story of motherhood and friendship, anchored by two extraordinary heroines, will stay with me for a long time. -- Khaled Hosseini
This book is nothing short of a masterpiece. --Quill and Quire
This novel is a love song to music itself, the true and requited love of these gifted musicians' lives. --Globe & Mail
Echlin has created two women who practically explode off the page with their desire, talent and brilliance. They are both incredibly flawed, making all the wrong choices, falling for difficult men, and raising kids on messy kitchens floors-and yet, like most women, they find a way to make life work through the chaos. The result is a book that has the rhythm, cadence and sexuality of a piano tune played in a little theatre on the wrong side of a big town. --Heather O'Neill
The novel carries readers through an impressive cavalcade of personal and societal changes. Echlin is that rare writer who can evoke the joy of playing and listening to music without resorting to overly abstract language or fuzzy metaphors. --Toronto Star Review
Kim Echlin lives in Toronto. She is the author of Elephant Winter, Dagmar's Daughter, Inanna: From the Myths of Ancient Sumer, and The Disappeared, which was published in seventeen languages, nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and won the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award for Fiction.