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Tuesday, 1 August 2017


Bel Canto is the fourth novel by American author Ann Patchett, published in 2001 by Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. It was awarded both the Orange Prize for Fiction and PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. It was placed on several top book lists, including Amazon's Best Books of the Year (2001). It was also adapted into an opera in 2015.
Based on the Japanese embassy hostage crisis (also called the Lima Crisis) of 1996–1997 in Lima, Peru, the novel follows the relationships among a group of young terrorists and their hostages, who are mostly high-profile executives and politicians, over several months. Many of the characters form unbreakable bonds of friendship, while some fall in love.

Opera is a centralizing theme on many levels throughout the story; the operatic term bel canto literally means "beautiful singing."


Set in an unspecified South American country, the story begins at a birthday party thrown at the country's vice presidential home in honor of Katsumi Hosokawa, the visiting chairman of a large Japanese company and opera enthusiast. As a not-so-subtle pretext to get Hosokawa to invest in the country, famous American soprano Roxane Coss is scheduled to perform as the highlight of the party.

Near the end of the party, members of a terrorist organization break into the house looking for the President. When it is discovered that the President did not attend the party, the terrorist group decides to take the entire party hostage. After determining they have too many hostages, the terrorists decide to release all of the hostages except those they deem most likely to return a large ransom.

Two major romantic relationships develop as the standoff drags on and serve as the backdrop to the rest of the story. The first is between Roxane and Hosokawa, who develop a deep bond even though they do not speak each other's language and thus cannot communicate verbally. The second relationship is between the translator Gen and the young terrorist Carmen, who must keep their love a secret. The two lovers meet in the china closet every night.

At the end of the novel, the government breaks into the house and kills all the terrorists. All of the hostages are freed except for Hosokawa, who dies in the struggle. The novel ends some time after the crisis as Gen and Roxane are wed in Italy.

Download the book: Bel Canto.pdf

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