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The Tragic Fate of Moritz Tot
By Dana Todorovic
Reviewed by Madeleine Maccar
You may think a title like The Tragic Fate of Moritz Tot would be too much of a spoiler or that only a truly fatalistic story would bear such a name, but you, like me, would be quite wrong. What Dana Todorovic offers her audience is a tale of compassion, both belatedly appreciated and ultimately misunderstood, as the narrative jumps back and forth between the titular character himself, a former punk-rock musician who lands a gig as a line-prompter in the opera Turandot, and Tobias Keller, who serves as the Advisor for Moral Issues and is the subject of a disciplinary hearing for actions he thought were not only warranted but also of an ethical imperative. As their two stories hurdle forward in two distinctly different directions, it becomes evident how they share a cause-and-effect relationship.
Compelling personal details supporting each story do surface, later to be made clear that they are included only to add background color to each character; for example, there's an early instance elaborating on Moritz's musical past wherein he tells of selling his musician grandfather's gift of a violin for a much cheaper Ibanez guitar and the ensuing mixture of guilt and self-discovery he experiences. Rather than feeling like a tangle of loose threads, however, such an approach eventually highlights the fact that this is more of a philosophical tale rather than mere storytelling. While Moritz and Tobias are both likable enough for a reader to care what happens to them, it's really the choices comprising and beliefs driving their halves of the story, as well as its overall interplay between free will and immutable fate, that are the beating heart of this short but poignant novel.
Out of 10: 8.6