We were thrilled to celebrate accomplished author Martha Anne Toll’s first novel, Three Muses. In it, a Holocaust survivor and a Prima Ballerina are both saved, transformed, and challenged by the three muses of song, discipline, and memory. Meticulously researched and finely composed, this propulsive love story is one that skillfully integrates language, music, and movement on the page. Toll joined us in conversation with author Jai Chakrabarti (A Play for the End of the World).
Presented with Jewish Book Council.
By Martha Anne Toll
Published by Regal House Publishing
Three Muses is a love story that enthralls: a tale of Holocaust survival venturing through memory, trauma, and identity, while raising the curtain on the unforgiving discipline of ballet. In post-WWII New York, John Curtin suffers lasting damage from having been forced to sing for the concentration camp kommandant who murdered his family. John trains to be a psychiatrist, struggling to wrest his life from his terror of music and his past. Katya Symanova climbs the arduous path to Prima Ballerina of the New York State Ballet, becoming enmeshed in an abusive relationship with her choreographer, who makes Katya a star but controls her life. When John receives a ticket to attend a ballet featuring Katya Symanova, a spell is cast. As John and Katya follow circuitous paths to one another, fear and promise rise in equal measure. Song, Discipline, and Memory weave their way through love and loss, heartbreak and triumph.
Martha Anne Toll
Martha Anne Toll
Martha Anne Toll writes fiction, essays, and book reviews, and reads anything that’s not nailed down. Her debut novel, Three Muses, won the Petrichor Prize for Finely Crafted Fiction and is forthcoming from Regal House Publishing on September 20, 2022. Toll brings a long career in social justice to her work covering BIPOC and women writers. She is a book reviewer and author interviewer at NPR Books, the Washington Post, Pointe magazine, the Millions, and elsewhere. She also publishes short fiction and essays in a wide variety of outlets. Toll has recently joined the Board of Directors of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation.
Jai Chakrabarti is the author of the novel A Play for the End of the World (Knopf), which won the National Jewish Book Award for debut fiction, was the Association of Jewish Libraries Honor Book, and was long-listed for the PEN/Faulkner Award. He is also the author of the forthcoming story collection A Small Sacrifice for an Enormous Happiness (Knopf, 2023). His short fiction has appeared in numerous journals and has been anthologized in The O. Henry Prize Stories, The Best American Short Stories, and awarded a Pushcart Prize and also performed on Selected Shorts by Symphony Space. His nonfiction has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Writer’s Digest, Berfrois, and LitHub. He was an Emerging Writer Fellow with A Public Space and received an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College and is a trained computer scientist. Born in Kolkata, India, he now lives in New York with his family.