Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Roxanne Coss, opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening–until a band of gun-wielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, a moment of great beauty, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different continents become compatriots, intimate friends, and lovers. Friendship, compassion, and the chance for great love lead characters to forget the real danger that has been set in motion and cannot be stopped.
A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the winner of the Orange Prize and PEN/Faulkner Award.