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Beautiful Music


A funny, poignant, thoughtfully rendered novel about love, fear, death, race, music, and the intense passions of youth.

Forthcoming: 5/1/18

$16.95 $12.71

What people are saying…

“[Zadoorian’s] new novel speaks of death, race, music and youth in a voice that has been compared to Nick Hornby and Tobias Wolff. It is set in 1970’s Detroit at the cusp of punk, and centers around high school loner and music fanatic Danny Yzemski. One to look forward to for fans of rock music and sad, funny writing.”

“Set in early 1970s Detroit, a racially divided city still reeling from its violent riot of 1967, this novel is the story of a high school boy’s transformation through music.”
Publishers Weekly, Spring 2018 Announcements, Literary Fiction

“How do we find soul-saving comfort in moments when deep personal loneliness coincides with a world gone increasingly mad? This question is at the heart of Beautiful Music, Michael Zadoorian’s funny and melancholic novel that navigates the haunted history of the Rust Belt. Zadoorian shows how music has kept the region’s heart beating—especially Detroit’s—even in the most crushing and confusing of times.”
—Dean Bakopoulos, author of Summerlong

“Michael Zadoorian has captured an era when Detroit simmered with anger and fear while it simultaneously reverberated with the joyous noise of rock and roll. Beautiful Music eloquently evokes the beauty, confusion, and power of that late 1960s/early 1970s milieu.”
—Don Was, Grammy Award–winning producer, musician

“The story of Beautiful Music is painted with rich, exquisite detail and all the painful hyperawareness of growing up in a culture of mixed signals, confusion, and loss. Salvation comes through music. A miraculous safe place in which to belong.”
—Nancy Wilson, singer/guitarist, Heart

“Like Nick Hornby or the great Nick Tosches, Michael Zadoorian is the rare novelist whose prose crackles with the energy of the best rock and roll. Beautiful Music is a beautiful bildungsroman that does the sounds and spirit of his beloved Detroit proud.”
—Jim DeRogatis, author of Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs

“Popping with Detroit cultural landmarks, Beautiful Music wraps a disturbing yet humorous tale of beleaguered adolescence in 1970s Motor City around the A-list rock music that made the dingy landscape an aural playground.”
—Steve Miller, author of Detroit Rock City

“Don’t let anyone tell you that a novel can’t have a soundtrack. Beautiful Music adds another chapter to Detroit’s rock and roll mythology, every scene shaking with bass, drums, guitar riffs, and driving vocals. But beneath it all, Zadoorian expertly portrays a quiet boy who’s navigating heartache at home, bullies at school, and racial tension in the air—a boy trusting in music to tell him that both he and his city will be okay in the end.”
—Adam Schuitema, author of The Things We Do That Make No Sense

Beautiful Music thrums like a guitar riff and rattles like a bass drum. This soulful, funny, transporting, and often electrifying novel will resonate with anyone who’s found their true passion—or is still on the hunt. It’s not just a great Detroit story and a great American story; it’s also a story about what it means to be human. I loved this book! In the words of Bob Seger, all I could do was turn the page.”
—Davy Rothbart, contributor to This American Life

“Like a song you can’t stop playing, Beautiful Music casts a spell on your heart. With clarity and tenderness, Zadoorian sweeps us into a life that we recognize as our own. Remember when you were lonely, scared, unsure, and then somehow found your own kind of bravery and actual, genuine joy? Beautiful Music will take you there—and give you the soundtrack to get you through.”
—Scott Sparling, author of Wire to Wire


Set in early 1970s Detroit, a divided city still reeling from its violent race riot of 1967, Beautiful Music is the story of one young man’s transformation through music. Danny Yzemski is a husky, pop radio–loving loner balancing a dysfunctional homelife with the sudden harsh realities of freshman year at a high school marked by racial turbulence.

But after tragedy strikes the family, Danny’s mother becomes increasingly erratic and angry about the seismic cultural shifts unfolding in her city and the world. As she tries to hold it together with the help of Librium, highballs, and breakfast cereal, Danny finds his own reason to carry on: rock and roll. In particular, the drum and guitar–heavy songs of local legends like the MC5 and Iggy Pop. In the vein of Nick Hornby and Tobias Wolff, yet with a style very much Zadoorian’s own, Beautiful Music is a touching story about the power of music and its ability to save one’s soul.

Book Details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Published: 5/1/18
  • IBSN: 9781617756276
  • e-IBSN: 9781617756443
  • Hardcover
  • IBSN: 9781617756177


MICHAEL ZADOORIAN is the author of the critically praised The Leisure Seeker—now a film starring Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland, released by Sony Pictures Classics this year. Zadoorian is a recipient of a Kresge Artist Fellowship in the Literary Arts, the Columbia University Anahid Literary Award, the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, and the Michigan Notable Book Award. His other books are Second Hand: A Novel, and the story collection The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit. His fiction has appeared in the Literary Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, American Short Fiction, Witness, Great Lakes Review, and the North American Review. He lives with his wife in the Detroit area. Beautiful Music is his latest novel.

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