Bel Canto, by Ann PatchettRead about the other entries on the list.
Patchett’s riveting 2001 novel involves an opera singer who is taken hostage at the home of the Vice President of an unnamed South American country. In order to entice Katsumi Hosokawa, a Japanese business executive and opera lover, to invest in his country, the Vice President throws him a birthday party featuring the soprano Roxane Cross. When terrorists break in and discover that their target, the President, has not attended the party, they decide to hold everyone hostage. During this crisis, two pairs of characters fall in love. Patchett was inspired by the Japanese Embassy hostage crisis in Lima, Peru in 1996, thinking it sounded operatic, and according to the Chicago Tribune, her working title for the book was “How to Fall in Love with Opera.” An editor talked her out of that one, worried it would be filed in the how-to section. Patchett’s love of opera was requited: last year the Lyric Opera adapted Bel Canto into an opera.
Bel Canto is among Jeff Somers's top five novels set in a single pressure cooker location, Tatjana Soli's six favorite books that conjure exotic locales, Kathryn Williams's six top novels set in just one place, Dell Villa's top eight books to read when you’re in the mood to cry for days, John Mullen's ten best birthday parties in literature, and Joyce Hackett's top ten musical novels.