November 2015 Indie Next List
“With the same level of intrigue and attention to detail that drew readers to The Art Forger, The Muralist focuses on the early days of WWII and the dawn of Abstract Expressionism. Shapiro brings to life New York City artists Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, who are both inspired by the novel's brave and talented protagonist, Alizee Benoit. As these struggling artists find traction within their trade, Benoit attempts to bring awareness to the plight of European refugees and to defuse anti-Semitic politics in the U.S. through her art. Moving from past to present, readers will cheer for Benoit's grandniece, Danielle, who is researching her family history to find the truth about Alizee's mysterious disappearance and shed light on the sacrifices and contributions she made through art. Shapiro delivers another fascinating and compelling story.”
— Anderson McKean, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL
When Alizée Benoit, a young American painter working for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), vanishes in New York City in 1940, no one knows what happened to her. Not her Jewish family living in German-occupied France. Not her arts patron and political compatriot, Eleanor Roosevelt. Not her close-knit group of friends and fellow WPA painters, including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Lee Krasner. And, some seventy years later, not her great-niece, Danielle Abrams, who, while working at Christie’s auction house, uncovers enigmatic paintings hidden behind works by those now famous Abstract Expressionist artists. Do they hold answers to the questions surrounding her missing aunt?
Entwining the lives of both historical and fictional characters, and moving between the past and the present, The Muralist plunges readers into the divisiveness of prewar politics and the largely forgotten plight of European refugees refused entrance to the United States. It captures both the inner workings of New York’s art scene and the beginnings of the vibrant and quintessentially American school of Abstract Expressionism.
As she did in her bestselling novel The Art Forger, B. A. Shapiro tells a gripping story while exploring provocative themes. In Alizée and Danielle she has created two unforgettable women, artists both, who compel us to ask: What happens when luminous talent collides with unstoppable historical forces? Does great art have the power to change the world?
About the Author
B. A. Shapiro is the author of the award-winning New York Times bestseller The Art Forger and the bestseller The Muralist. She has taught sociology at Tufts University and creative writing at Northeastern University and lives in Boston with her husband, Dan, and their dog, Sagan. Her website is www.bashapirobooks.com.
“B. A. Shapiro makes the radical, varied, and sometimes enigmatic world of abstract expressionism altogether human and accessible in her smart new historical thriller. …It has more emotional ballast and is more skillfully written than what one customarily finds. The novel evokes the horror and sorrow of the Holocaust in just their tedious administrative tasks of retracing steps, of sifting through wreckage. Shapiro also does a wonderful job of restoring complexity to the historical moment and stripping away the clarity of retrospection.” —The Boston Globe
“Shapiro’s plotting is deft, and the anonymous paintings and Alizée’s disappearance add mystery and intrigue to the tale. Like her well-received 2012 novel, “The Art Forger,” this new story takes us into the heart of what it means to be an artist. …vibrant and suspenseful. As tens of thousands of modern-day asylum-seekers from the Middle East and Africa surge into Europe, and pictures of their mistreatment are broadcast around the world, “The Muralist” is a grim reminder that history continues to repeat itself.” —The Washington Post
“B.A. Shapiro captivated us in 2012 with her “addictive” novel The Art Forger
. Now, she’s back with another thrilling tale from the art world, set right on the brink of World War II.” —Entertainment Weekly
is, like What She Left Behind
by Ellen Marie Wiseman or Orphan Train
by Christina Baker Kline, a historical novel that brings the 20th century to life…” —USA Today
“Shapiro follows the enthusiastically received The Art Forger
(2012) with an even more polished and resonant tale. [Her] novel of epic moral failings is riveting, gracefully romantic, and sharply revelatory; it is also tragic in its timeliness as the world faces new refugee crises.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Shapiro’s writing pulses with energy…. The Muralist brings the time period and setting to life. Readers will appreciate Shapiro’s seamless integration of fact into the story and will feel immersed in a time when the world tipped into chaos. Art, history, and mystery — an intriguing and satisfying blend.” —Washington Independent Review of Books
“In The Muralist, novelist B.A. Shapiro deftly layers American art history, the facts of World War II and the fictitious stories of Alizee and Dani. …The Muralist is a compelling mystery. …The Muralist elevates Shapiro to an even higher plane and is sure to be a crowning touch in an already celebrated career.” —BookPage
“In this noirish intrigue and fine-art detective story, Shapiro ably intersects the early years of the abstract expressionist movement, the Roosevelts, institutionalized anti-Semitism that denied American visas to Jewish refugees, the relentless run-up to World War II, and the generational losses of the Shoah. Mystery and historical fiction lovers…will find this a riveting read.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“Engaging … Shapiro convincingly portrays the work of the artist as an agent of expression and hope in a world of despair.” — The New York Jewish Week
“[Shapiro] knows how to craft a page-turner. The Muralist is certainly an engrossing tale. Perhaps it will also send a few readers to the Museum of Modern Art for a fresh look at the craft of Rothko, Pollock, and their contemporaries. That would be a wonderful, and very un-abstract, mingling of art and real life.” —New York Journal of Books