Nominated by:

Auckland Libraries, New Zealand

Wellington City Libraries, New Zealand

Timaru District Libraries, New Zealand

Publisher of nominated edition:

Random House, New Zealand

The Conductor

Sarah Quigley    

2013 Longlist

In June 1941, Nazi troops march on Leningrad and surround it. Hitler’s plan is to shell, bomb, and starve the city into submission. Most of the cultural elite are evacuated early in the siege, but Dmitri Shostakovich, the most famous composer in Russia, stays on to defend his city, digging ditches and fire-watching. At night he composes a new work. But after Shostakovich and his family are forced to evacuate, only Karl Eliasberg – a shy and difficult man, conductor of the second-rate Radio Orchestra – and an assortment of musicians are left behind in Leningrad to face an unendurable winter and start rehearsing the finished score of Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony.

(From Publisher)

About the Author

Born in Christchurch, New Zealand, Sarah Quigley is a novelist, critic, and columnist. She has a D.Phil. in Literature from the University of Oxford, and is a graduate of Bill Manhire’s creative writing course. In 1998, she won the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship. Her short stories and poetry have been widely broadcast and published, and her fiction has won many prizes, including the Sunday Star-Times Short Story Award and the Commonwealth Pacific Rim Short Story Award. Previous publications include three novels, a collection of short fiction, a creative writing manual, and two poetry collections. Her second novel Shot was long-listed for the 2005 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and her third novel Fifty Days saw her featured in Waterstones UK 20 Faces of the Future. In 2000 she won the inaugural Creative New Zealand Berlin Residency. Since then she has divided her time between New Zealand and Berlin. She writes a weekly column for The Press, and also works as a freelance editor for a number of UK and German publishers.

Librarians’ Comments

The Conductor was a stand out read which was hugely popular with our customers, many of whom would not have been previously familiar with the time or place the story is set in.  The novel is much more than just an eye-opener however; its insights into inner conflict and the need for art as a buttress against barbarism made it memorable.

The Conductor is a remarkable story of friendship, dedication and hope with a flowing plot making it a pleasure to read. It is a well researched novel weaving fact and fiction, featuring brilliant characterizations and information which makes great reading for anyone interested in historical detail.

Related Entries