When the Colours Sing
‘When the Colours Sing’ is a novel about art, creativity and destructiveness and the ways they emerge in personal, social and political contexts. Narrated by a woman in her fiftieth year, searching for her identity through writing about her father’s (imaginary) relationship with the painter Gabriele Münter, it constructs a thread of continuity that she believes will root her in the world. In a seamless fusion of fact with fiction, the narrator’s search for identity and humanity echoes the universal search for recognition, for belonging, for approval, for love.
In trying to give birth to herself as a psychological being, the narrator takes us to artists of the Blue Rider Movement. Gabriele Münter (Ella), the main character in the story, Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, and others come alive, and together with fictional characters argue their way through the first half of the twentieth century straight into our hearts. In the novel, spanning the years 1909-1939, Münter’s life – and her disastrous affair with Kandinsky, then her relationship with Eichner – swings from the joy of love and creation to the despair of loss of love, work, faith and trust. Around her, Russians, Germans, Jewish Germans, Greeks and others struggle to make sense of war, the world, their art and lives in the swirl of events that engulfed and inflamed Europe. And then, faced with a dangerous request, they have to act. Out of love, generosity, fear, ignorance, they demonstrate the human bases of superhuman effort.