Divided into four loosely chronological sections, the novel spans the length of Nureyev's dancing career, opening in Stalin's war-ravaged Russia, where the young Rudolf earned sugar lumps for entertaining wounded soldiers, and closing with his last sickly, performance and a final, fleeting, visit home. Exile and displacement are really the chief themes of the book and McCann's Nureyev is a man scarred and agitated by the decision to abandon his homeland. "I dance", he notes at one point, "so much--too much--in order not to think of home". McCann seems to imply, however, that it is his disapproving father, who never saw him dance, who fuelled his relentless ambition. Forays into cod-Freudian psychoanalysis aside, this gripping reinvention of Nureyev, rich in period detail and characterisation, is well conceived, marvellously wrought and eminently readable. --Travis Elborough
"McCann writes a dazzling blend of menace and heartbreak.
-David McCullough, The New York Times Book Review
"Melancholy, beauty, and resignation characterize McCann's understated, luminous language."
-Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books