“Art will wake you up. Art will break your heart. There will be glorious days. If you want eternity you must be fearless.” —from The Museum of Modern Love
Arky Levin has reached a dead end. Unexpectedly separated from his wife, he suddenly has the space he needs to work composing film scores—but none of the peace of mind he needs to create. As he wanders the city, guilty and restless, it’s almost by chance that he stumbles upon an exhibition that will change his life.
The installation the fictional Arky discovers—which is based on a real piece of performance art that took place in 2010—is inexplicably powerful. Visitors to the Museum of Modern Art sit across a table from the performance artist Marina Abramović, for as short or long a period as they choose. Although some go in skeptical, almost all leave moved. And the participants are not the only ones to find themselves changed by this unusual experience: Arky finds himself drawn to the exhibit. He returns day after day to watch other people sit with Abramović—and as he does, he begins to understand what might be missing in his life and what he must do.
Winner of the 2017 Margaret Scott Prize - Tasmanian Premier's Literary Prizes
Winner of the 2017 Christina Stead Prize for Fiction - NSW Premier's Literary Awards
Winner of the 2017 Stella Prize
Shortlisted for the 2017 Australian Literature Society Gold Medal
Shortlisted for the 2017 University of Queensland Fiction Book Award
“Framing a love story around a long-durational performance work, where the passage of time is essential, is a profoundly original idea. I loved this book.”
“This captivating work explores the meaning of art in our lives and the ways in which it deepens our understanding of ourselves. As Hannah Rothschild did in The Improbability of Love, Australian author Rose also combines intriguing characters with a laser-sharp focus on art to produce a gem of a novel.”
—Library Journal, starred review
“Deeply involving . . . profound . . . emotionally rich and thought-provoking.”
—Booklist, starred review
“Clever, genre-bending . . . A portrait of human desire and human failing, but perhaps most profoundly, human striving for something greater than self. Rose’s melancholy book resonates with emotion, touching on life’s great dilemmas—death, vocation, love, art.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A lush tone poem to the life of art and art in life, The Museum of Modern Love coruscates with captivating energy . . . Incisive, beautiful, and precise.”
—Foreword Reviews, starred review
“A glorious novel, meditative and special in a way that defies easy articulation.”
—Hannah Kent, author of Burial Rites
“A deliciously inventive tale of the New York art scene, swirling with complex characters and connections, posing questions about how we should live, about art's ability to change our lives, and about the ways art changes the artists who create it.”
—B. A. Shapiro, author of The Collector's Apprentice
“From its conception to its last page, this book challenges our perceptions of where life ends and art begins.”
Heather Rose was born in Australia in 1964. Her novels have been shortlisted or have won awards for literary fiction, crime fiction, and children’s fantasy. In 2017, The Museum of Modern Love, her seventh novel, won the Christina Stead Prize and the Stella Prize. It is her first novel for adults to be published in the United States. She lives by the sea on the island of Tasmania.