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Rondo (novel)

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Rondo is a dystopian novel by John Maher, published in 2010 by Pilgrim Press.



Rondo is set sometime after The Sudden War, between a crumbling chateau on the outskirts of 2me Lyon and Rondo, located on the Dead Delta of the Danube, somewhere beyond the New Desert. It is the cautionary tale of one Josef Divonne who travels, at the beginning of High Thermidor, from 2me Lyon, to join up with a bunch of fellow-dissidents in Rondo. It is an account of Josef's disenchantment with his perfect adopted country and his eventual incarceration there. Although written in English, there are occasional quotations from Lower European (such as the melancholy, 'S'gibt rien aqui!') and Rondan (maritime).

Plot summary

The story opens with Josef Divonne arriving in Rondo, on the shores of the Dead Delta of the Danube, having flown in from Lower Europe. Josef believes he is driven by ideology but, in fact, it is the mystery of his mother egg (he was a free born child) and his hero father's (Uwe) record in the Purifications of Africa and the Italies which is really behind his uncertainty. Leaving the chateau outside 2me Lyon at the start of High Thermidor, he joins up with a bunch of dissidents - the Lovers of Rondo - in the 'free state' of Rondo. Overwhelmed by all he sees, Josef goes native. After a short while, he decides to become a citizen of Rondo, embracing his personal god, Zinze, following the Sublime Path and obeying all the instructions of his mentor, Adnan. He divorces his wife by electric mail. Despite melancholy flashbacks to his childhood, during the Second Sida Cycle, he decides his future lies in Rondo. But all is not as it seems. After an illegal visit to the Circus with Nor Nor, an Asian he despises, he is confronted, in his cups, by a restaurant owner who whispers to him in Lower European 'S'gibt rien aqui!'. Slowly, Josef comes to realise that he is not in a 'free state' but in a prison colony for dissidents. Waking on the night he is due to fly out of Rondo, he finds he has been left behind and that Nor Nor, his only true confidante, has been killed in a mysterious fall from a balcony. He also finds that someone has been stealing days from him, here and there, for many years. Josef is left in Rondo, as nothing more than the catamite of the great Adnan, leader of the first crossing to Rondo. He has a much coveted dragonfly in a glass case by his bed. But he has nothing. There is no home now. He will wear out his days in the realisation that to embrace the Stanislavsky method, in Rondo, is his only salvation.

Main characters

In 2me Lyon

  • Josef Divonne
  • Uwe, his father
  • Nono, his grandfather
  • Gaston, his grandfather's lover
  • The Facilitator
  • Veteran Foucarde
  • Veteran Du Bois
  • In Rondo

  • The Jolly Restaurateur
  • Adnan, Josef's mentor
  • Madame Helono
  • Mr Ephraim, the little philologist
  • Dennis, the revivalist
  • Nor-Nor, the Asian
  • Dore, the illegal watercolourist
  • Illana, of 2me Mannheim
  • Roderick, hero of the children's novel 'Asky in a Piccard'
  • Critical reception

    Rondo was almost universally ignored, both in Lower and Upper Europe. Nevertheless, the Booker-shortlisted writer, Pat McCabe (novelist), gave it a warm welcome.

    “Daringly prescient to the point of prophecy, wickedly insightful and most impressively crafted, this searing yet hugely enjoyable novel is in the grand tradition of De Quincey, Jonathan Swift and, latterly, Chris Morris. In an age of worthy but predictable writing, Maher's book is sui generis. It simply demands to be read."{Blurb from Rondo (Pilgrim Press, 2010)} Available for complimentary download:


    Rondo (novel) Wikipedia