The Boston Castrato

By Colin W. Sargent

Category: All Books, Fiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, LGBTQA+

Formats available: Paperback, Ebook

Pages: 304

Publication date: 03/03/16

ISBN-13: 9781909954205

ISBN-10: 1909954209

A novel that grabs the city of Boston city out of the 1920s and makes it vivid. Be it the high style of the Parker House Hotel; the flagrant, fragrant set who dance attendance on the poet Amy Lowell; the scientists and shipbuilders and politicians and utter rogues who raise the city from the dirt; it all shimmers into reality as an outsider leads us is into its quaking heart. Raffi, a young Italian, is our guide. He left more than his country behind in Rome. Snipped by a bishop as the last castrato, he is bundled off to America when the Church takes shame. Forbidden to use his voice, other skills steal him into the society of 1920s Boston. Raffi enters the hardest quest of all the search for a genuine love song.


A novel about the beauty of the outcast, and a critique of the perverse push and pull of society s simultaneous exploitative fascination with and disgust for those who are different. Raffi's multifaceted journey celebrates the strange and proves an endlessly entertaining ride through his world and the challenges he faces. From revenge, murder, lifelong rivalry, and love, little cannot be found in Sargent's The Boston Castrato.


The Boston Castrato's real strengths lie in its characterization and how it weaves together subplots. Strong portrayals of crooked pols, hit men, imposters, gangsters, aspiring singers, and psychics barrel on to their dramatic conclusions

- Washington City Paper, Eve Ottenberg,

To say that The Boston Castrato is Colin W Sargent's interpretation of the great American novel writ small is no criticism. By focusing largely on a specific location in a single year, and compressing the narrative into less than 300 pages, Sargent amplifies the tumult of individual lives as a reflection of the dominating forces of migration, crime and cultural experimentation that define them. The author provides a fast-moving and evocative sequence of interlocking events that generate a sense of the pace of the dislocation within the US melting pot. The Boston Castrato stews up a brilliant, compelling and quite stunningly repulsive blend of characters, situations and dilemmas. The land of seeming opportunity is revealed as just another tawdry laboratory of exploitation. So much about the modern US is explained here, not in a didactic manner but on its own, lying and exaggerated terms. Fiction tells the truths than mere facts cannot. Apparently, this book was considered so subversive that no US imprint would touch it. Yet it has real literary value and it is to the credit of Barbican Press that we can read such an extraordinary literary expression of the American nightmare.

- The Morning Star - Paul Simon -

Colin W. Sargent

Novelist Colin W. Sargent is the author of The Boston Castrato and Museum of Human Beings. He is the founding editor and publisher of Portland Magazine. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, he has an MFA from Stonecoast and a PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. He teaches writing at William & Mary.