by Annie Proulx
, author of The Shipping News
Accordion Crimes is composed of 8 novellas each following a green accordion; from its conception in Sicily in 1891 and subsequent journey to America, to its final resting place on a Texas highway in 1996. Along the way, Proulx portrays the stuggles of Germans, Quebeçois, Basques, Poles, Norwegians, Africans, and Mexicans attempting to find new life in the United States.
Proulx's novel is about the American immigrant experience, and she tries to present the lives of as many different ethnicities as possible. She also refuses to romanticize her characters' lives, and many of them meet unsatisfactory, sometimes gruesome, ends.
These details led to poor reviews of Accordion Crimes upon its release; with critics claiming that Proulx's outstanding prose failed to compensate for the lack of continuity and absence of a likeable main character, like Quoyle from The Shipping News. But viewed as a history of immigration and racial tension in the United States, or even just a series of dark short stories, I think Accordion Crimes is a remarkable novel.