The critically reviewed novel opens with the kidnapping of a Japanese CEO, Mr. Hosokawa, and his sidekick-translator, Gen, while on a trip to an unnamed South American country for a lavish birthday party in Hosokawa’s honor at which Roxane Coss, a famous American opera diva, is entertaining the guests. Though an unlikely setting for a sublime novel which, at its core, reminds us what it is that makes us human, Bel Canto is all that–and more. It is also a story about language, culture, struggle, love and music, an exploration of what divides us, and most importantly, what unites us. To set a novel in a hostage situation is a bold move, but to render from that dramatic situation a moving exploration of how it is possible for people to find ways of communicating, not only across linguistic but also cultural and political divisions, is nothing short of miraculous.The theatricality and dramatic intensity of the story itself, with its pairings of opposites in two love stories; the confusions of sexual identities; and the transformation of what at first seems to be a hellish imprisonment into a kind of paradise, are all wonderfully realized. Not only does the novel engender in the reader the very passion for art and the language of music, but the reader will find him or herself fervently wanting the magical awakenings and love affairs to continue forever, even though you know that the violence of the real world must and will intrude.