" This is not a biography, it's a story, a novel, a tale. For a long time I toyed with the idea of calling it a false portrait" Taken from Colum McCann's interview online.
This is the story of the life of Russian Dancer Rudolf Nureyev and the people that surrounded him and for me it was the surrounding characters that took centre stage in this superbly written novel.
I have read a few of McCann's novels some I have liked better than others but this story from the first chapter where Russian Soldiers returning from the Eastern front after World War II are entertained by the young Nureyev had me hooked.
I am not a fan of Ballet and knew very little about the life of Nureyev and really had little interest in this book until I saw it was available in Whisper sync and I really love reading and listening to a book especially I want the correct pronunciation of foreign names people and places. The audio book for Dancer is excellent with different narrators for different characters and I didn't find it at all confusing switching between characters. McCann weaves his magic and tells an astonishing and quite believable story. The characters themselves are so wide and varied and the story is told from their viewpoints which makes this book so compelling.
While I was quite interested in the story of Rudof, I was fascinated by the story of those he left behind in Russia and in life in general as it was through their voices we hear the real story. I am not sure I would have liked or cared for the dancer himself but I certainly appreciate his art and how hard he worked for the love of dance.
There were times in the story when I didn't care for the scenes of sex or drugs and readers may not like this aspect of the story but I do understand that it belonged in the book.
There is so much about this book that I loved, Colum McCann is a passionate writer and few authors match his insight, attention to detail and searing prose.
This powerful story will loiter in my mind and already I have played wonderful You Tube videos of Interviews and ballet performances by by Rudolf and his partner Margot Fonten.