I was thrilled on March 19, 2019, to be interviewed by sociologist and educator Joan Goldstein on her Princeton TV30 talk show, Back Story. The program will air in New Jersey, USA, at 8:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 27, and 5:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 31, and will be available via a URL starting next month.
Increasingly, I am thinking of this novel, a fictionalized account of Beethoven's life from birth through age 16, as a metaphor for the heartbreak of domestic violence, prejudice, bullying, failure, and abuse that haunts millions of lives in the 20th and 21st centuries.
In recent weeks, as I carefully proofread galley after galley in anticipation of the April 10 release date, I began to experience episodes of empathy with the main character, Luis (one of the names Beethoven used), that I did not have when I wrote the book six years ago.
Why was I feeling this way? What was it about the descriptions of family violence and the ray of hope that spreads into a rainbow on the final page?
Then it became clear. I had experienced this myself. Whether through actual incidents or through the observation of others, I knew every taunt, put-down, and slap, but more important, I knew every door that was opened because of a caring stranger, a great teacher, and my own inner resolve.
The child Beethoven's story is not just a tale from the past, a loose configuration of facts and imaginings. It is our story today, the story of how we have dared to progress from darkness into Light.
There was a reason the tears would fall every time I read the final pages of Invictus. I was that child, graduating from high school with no future, no promise, no one to care for me. And yet I did persevere and create the success that others would deny me.
I think now that Invictus has far greater meaning than a mere story about a young composer. It has meaning for everyone who has ever been held back because of their background or the way they looked, or through jealousy.
But it also has meaning for showing us that hope is always there, and when no one shows up to open the door, we can put our hand on the doorknob ourselves, and give it a turn.