The Music of Exile

Today, Roz Morris is featuring the music that helped to create The Centauress on her website at The Undercover Soundtrack.  Most of the characters in The Centauress are expatriates or exiles living in a Europe scarred by decades of division and war and ethnic hatred.  The novel is set in Istria which was part of Italy before 1945, then became part of Yugoslavia and is now in Croatia.  The novel's narrator, Alex Forbes, has lost her husband and child in a terrorist attack and is struggling to find a reason to carry on living.  She goes to Istria to research the biography of a controversial artist, Zenobia de Braganza, born 'between genders'  at a time when such things were poorly understood. Zenobia has lived her life in a kind of exile, neither male nor female, neither Italian nor Croatian. In trying to understand Zenobia's life, Alex begins to come to terms with her own loss and is able to accept love in a new relationship.

When I wrote the Undercover Soundtrack blog for Roz, several weeks ago, Flight MH17 had not been shot down and Israel had not begun its offensive against Palestine, but by a tragic coincidence what was written echoes what is happening in the real world now.  Although the characters in the novel have had their lives torn apart by terrorism and ethnic conflict, The Centauress is an optimistic book where everything is possible if we care enough.  One of the tracks I featured is an example of that optimism.

I listened to music from the exiled Palestinian diaspora as part of the creation of the novel and I've included a track sung by Reem Khalani, backed by Israeli musician Gilad Atzmon whose band 'Orient House' includes both Israeli and Palestinian musicians. Gilad unequivocally opposes his country's policies towards Palestine.  Reem Khalani sings the powerful and moving lament 'Dal' ouna - On the Return' - something most Palestinian exiles would like to do. I'm putting a link to it below as a tribute. Events on the television news are so terrible I can't watch any more, particularly with the knowledge that the British were instrumental in the dispossession of the Palestinian people after the second world war.  Ludo, in the novel, complains that the Superpowers divided Europe 'like slicing a cake' - and he's right.

If you'd like to know more about the European folk music I used for The Centauress, please click here for The Undercover Soundtrack.   There's also the chance to win 3 free copies of the novel. 


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