The Muralist

A Novel


By B. A. Shapiro

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Don't miss B. A. Shapiro's new novel, Metropolis, available now! 

“Vibrant and suspenseful . . . Like The Art Forger, this new story takes us into the heart of what it means to be an artist.” —The Washington Post

“B. A. Shapiro captivated us in 2012 with her ‘addictive’ novel The Art Forger. Now, she’s back with another thrilling tale from the art world.” —Entertainment Weekly

When Alizée Benoit, an American painter working for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), vanishes in New York City in 1940, no one knows what happened to her. Not her Jewish family living in German-occupied France. Not her artistic patron and political compatriot, Eleanor Roosevelt. Not her close-knit group of friends, including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Lee Krasner. And, some seventy years later, not her great-niece, Danielle Abrams, who while working at Christie’s auction house uncovers enigmatic paintings hidden behind works by those now-famous Abstract Expressionist artists. Do they hold answers to the questions surrounding her missing aunt? 




It was there when I arrived that morning, sitting to the right of my desk, ostensibly no different from the other half-dozen cartons on the floor, flaps bent back, paintings haphazardly poking out. As soon as I saw it, I ripped off my gloves, dropped to my knees, and pawed through the contents. I didn't realize I wasn't breathing until my chest began to ache and little black dots jumped around the edges of my vision.

I stood, hung up my coat and scarf, reminded myself that this needed time, thoughtful research, judgments deduced from fact not desire. But I did know my Abstract Expressionists. Their early paintings as well as their more famous later ones. Jackson Pollock before his drips, Mark Rothko before color block, when Lee Krasner and Willem de Kooning worked representationally. And there was a stirring of recognition, a sense of knowing this was no ordinary cardboard box, no ordinary find.

There were over a dozen paintings, not particularly large, three by four feet was the biggest, small for the Abstract Expressionists, even the early works. One by one, I propped them against the walls and across my desk, put a couple on top of a pile of art books. I inhaled the musty aroma of dust and aged paint, wondered where they had been all these years, who had touched them, loved them, forgotten them.

Rumor had it that this carton was the proverbial box in the attic, uncovered by a bereaved family and full of priceless masterpieces. These rumors are all too common around here and rarely pan out, but the odds were actually better than usual that this was the real deal. In the early 1940s, the WPA/FAP, the art division of the Works Progress Administration, one of Roosevelt's New Deal employment programs, was canceled without notice; the artists were unceremoniously dismissed, all the work they'd previously submitted disposed of.

Hundreds of these pieces were sold at four cents a pound to junkmen while the rest ended up on the sidewalk, some grabbed by art lovers and dealers, most left for trash. This was the possible origin story for these paintings, with the added prospect that some might be early works by the Abstract Expressionists, many of whom were employed by the WPA way before they became who they became.

Even an auction house like ours, with one of the most illustrious names in the business, routinely accepts art brought in by laypersons, in this case the Farrell family of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. Our fear of missing the Big One is almost as great as our fear of authenticating one that isn't big at all. We try to get people to email photographs, but this request is often ignored, and these mostly valueless pieces are shunted off to cataloguers (i.e., me and my wary band of late-twenty-somethings with undergraduate art degrees from classy colleges and no real marketable skills). Researching these wayward children and logging them into the database is how we make our so-called livings.

Most of the paintings in front of me weren't signed, which wasn't surprising, as the WPA's main concern was with the art and not the artist. I didn't recognize the signatures on the few that had them but some of the unsigned . . . Was it possible? Could that be one of Rothko's geometric cityscapes? A Krasner still life? Another looked similar to de Kooning's early figurative drawings. And two reeked of Pollock's over-the-top symbolism.

My interest in art, and in the Abstract Expressionists, stems from my grandfather's stories about my mysterious great-aunt Alizée—although when I enrolled in art school I'd pictured myself in a studio, not a cubicle. According to family legend, Alizée worked for the WPA and hung out in New York City with all the up-and-coming artists of the day. Grand-père claimed they were her friends, lovers even, and that she had a significant influence on their work. A point my mother declares is unverified speculation. Aunt Alizée disappeared under shadowy circumstances in 1940, so she isn't telling.

I visualized her two paintings, the only ones in existence as far as anyone knew: the colors, the brushstrokes, the brash energy. Grand-mère had given them to me because I was the artist in the family, and they overwhelmed the scant wall space of my tiny studio apartment, dwarfed the furniture. One was a beguiling and slightly disturbing abstraction, a shape-shifting ode to lily pads or clouds or fish, which I called Lily Pads because it sounded better than Clouds or Fish. The other, Turned, was in-your-face unavoidable, neither abstract nor realistic, something else completely, a smash to the solar plexus.

Unfortunately, in opposition to the gut reaction I'd felt for Pollock, Rothko, and Krasner, I saw nothing in any of the paintings that bore a resemblance to my aunt's work. Over its lifetime, the WPA/FAP had employed hundreds, if not thousands, of artists who created hundreds of thousands of paintings and sculptures, so the chance that any of these were made by my aunt was more than slim. As was the chance the carton contained any WPA paintings at all. Still.

"Hey," my friend Nguyen interrupted my thoughts. His first name was Tony, but no one ever called him that. "Can I see what you've got here? Seems like the least you can do after I finagled it for you." He was an aspiring lifer at Christie's, an associate specialist, two-going-on-three pay grades above me, and had always wanted to work for an auction house. He played the kowtowing lifer's game with a wry self-awareness that amused us both. I was in it mostly for the inadequate benefits and piddling semi-monthly check.

I stepped into the hallway so he could slide into the cubicle. He was, after all, the one who'd alerted me to the box's possibilities and then sent it my way.

He pointed to the maybe-Rothko. "His New York City series? Has his sense of alienation."

"So does a lot of art from that period," I argued for argument's sake.

"True." His eyes scanned the rest. "Anything that might be your aunt's?" We had lunch together at least once a week, and there were few secrets between us.

I shook my head. "My mother claims there aren't any more."

"How does she know?"

"That's what I said."

"If your aunt could disappear, why couldn't her paintings?"

"The assumption's that she was too crazy to paint any more. Remember? That whole mental institution thing."

He waved me off. "You sound like your mother."

"Ouch," I cried. "Anything but that."

He turned toward the space where a door would be if I had one. "If any of these turn out to be real," he said as he walked down the hallway, "you've got a hell of a lot of work to do, girl."

Nguyen was right. It's much easier to research a painting that proves to be worthless than one that might be valuable. The actual decision wouldn't be mine, that was for someone with a PhD and reams of experience authenticating art. I was only responsible for the preliminary forensics, but months of hard labor lay in front of me before I passed on the canvases. Everything from dating the age of each one to determining the chemical composition of the paint and the degree of rust on the nails holding the frames together. All of which would be redone after me, and then redone again. There are a lot of unscrupulous people around and too many galleries and auction houses had recently been caught with their pants down.

I flipped over the maybe-Rothko to check the backside of the canvas. To my semi-trained eye, it looked to be anywhere from fifty to a hundred years old, which would be about right. As I was returning the painting to my desk, an odd ridge on the back caught my eye. I wiped away what was probably seventy-five years of dust with a cloth I kept around for just this purpose.

It wasn't a ridge. It was a vellum envelope. I grabbed my tweezers and carefully pulled it off. Inside the envelope was another painting, roughly a two-foot-square canvas. I checked the backs of all the other paintings. Under heavy layers of dust, I found two more vellum envelopes, each enclosing another two-foot-square canvas. When I turned over the paintings to which the envelopes were attached, facing me were the maybe-Rothko, the maybe-Krasner, and one of the maybe-Pollocks.

I took the three square canvases into the hallway where the light was better. I knelt, ignoring the sharp blast of pain as my knees hit the thinly carpeted concrete. The three appeared to be the work of a single artist; all had a deep red undertone and contained images of abstracted flora and fauna, two had pieces of newsprint pasted to parts of the canvas. But the styles were quite different: one was more surrealistic, one more cubist, and the third an unusual combination of techniques. All were stunning.

As I stared at them, I was rocked by a wave of vertigo. I pressed my hand to the wall to steady myself. Then my brain caught up with my physical reaction, and I understood where the dizziness and trepidation came from. I told myself I was mistaken, that it couldn't be true. But the colors, the brushstrokes, the energy, the mix of styles . . . The paintings looked like my aunt's work. Could these squares be the creation of the enigmatic heroine of my childhood? Not possible and yet possible still.

Alizée, so charismatic, headstrong, and talented. Disappeared into pre–World War II New York City at almost the same time the rest of her family disappeared into Europe. Just as lost, just as gone, but with no bombs, no concentration camps, no lists of the dead, no explanation. The stoic silence of my Holocaust-surviving grandparents shrouded what little might have been known until the carton showed up in my office, lifted the veil, and let me inside.


ALIZÉE, 1939

Alizée painted at a makeshift desk, an overturned shipping crate with one side sawed off to accommodate her legs. According to the label, it once held uniforms for butchers; she hadn't known butchers wore uniforms. She worked in a warehouse that jutted into the Hudson River where eight different mural projects were being created side by side, and armies of artists clutching charcoal or brushes or marble pestles bustled through the yawning space.

Two years ago, she'd returned to the States after seven years in France. Seven more than she would have chosen, but she'd learned early on that the vagaries of fate had far more power than she did. She was nineteen at the time and had been living for that moment, had done battle with her family, her friends, even her art teachers, to realize it.

Nevertheless, at the first sight of Lady Liberty, she was swamped by a wrenching sadness and that odd sense of floating above her own head. From afar, she watched the shadows darken the space around her as she stood on the ship's deck, searching for people bustling with energy and opportunity, the ones she remembered and the ones she knew weren't there anymore.

Obviously, the country was in the midst of a depression, and she'd thought she was prepared for this. But the mute shipyards bounded by weathered warehouses, their wide doors swung open to reveal their lack of wares, unsettled her. It was well into the morning of a working day, yet grimy men, newsboy hats cocked, sat on posts along empty piers, smoking cigarettes and watching the boat's arrival with no interest whatsoever.

This was where the memories lived, and that would be difficult, but it was, she somehow knew, the only place her real life could begin. And she was right. Now, although the empty warehouses and grimy men were still perched on the New York City docks, she'd beaten back most of the sadness and moved on.

"Looks swell." Lee leaned over her shoulder and squinted at the tiny four-by-six-inch canvas she was painting. "If you like wooden patriotism."

"My favorite," Alizée said dryly. Although she got a kick out of making fun of the stiff, overly enthusiastic style imposed by the WPA, she wasn't about to complain about receiving a paycheck to produce art. Even if other artists actually designed the works she was painting, it was a hell of a good gig.

Lee squatted, looked more closely at the small panels. She'd taken over directing the mural from a boy who'd gone to fight Franco in the Spanish Civil War, receiving the unacknowledged and unpaid promotion because she'd worked for the WPA longer than any of the other assistants. She was ostensibly Alizée's boss, although neither of them thought of it that way; they'd been friends long before this particular project. Lee frowned at the six four-by-six-foot pastel studies Alizée was miniaturizing, the original WPA-approved drawings for the mural.

Alizée didn't like the frown. "What?" she demanded in mock dismay, then lit a cigarette. "Now you want to change it after I've worked my butt off for a week?"

It would take time to redo her efforts, but that was all it was: An effort. A job. Her own paintings were her real work. And those were very different from these: less tangible, more multidimensional, more in the process of becoming something else. When she worked on the mural, she was outside it; it was separate from her. With her own canvases, there was no space in between.

"Something queer about it." Lee cocked her head to the side. She was far from beautiful, but there was a voluptuousness about her, both in body and temperament, that made men forget all about her plain face. Lee claimed she didn't like going to parties with Alizée because, as she put it, "Alizée captures the room," which was ridiculous. Lee garnered attention, particularly male attention, everywhere she went.

Alizée walked up to the original drawings, thought for a moment, then rubbed her palm vigorously along the left legs of three shipbuilders shouldering a large slab of wood until the original lines of the sketch were indistinct. Then she started refashioning their calves. "Better?"

Lee nodded and pointed to the men's shirts. "A little more blue mixed in with the gray, I think."

"Jumble Shop?" Alizée asked.

"Sure." Lee sat back down at her desk, which was next to Alizée's.

After work, they often went up to the West Village for a beer dosed with arguments about the future of art, the meaning of art, the political in art, the abstract in art, just about anything in or of art. It reminded Alizée of the Dôme café in Paris, but without all the depressed faces and gloomy war talk.

A Frenchman might complain that the artists who flowed in and out of the Shop in paint-splattered waves drank too much, debated too boorishly, laughed too loudly, and didn't look beyond the streets of New York for either their art or politics, but he would also be forced to admit that they knew how to have fun. To Alizée, it was as if each person at the Shop was years younger than his or her European counterpart.

She loved the levity, the lightness, but more than that, she reveled in the shared certainty that being able to make art was the most amazing gift anyone could receive. Granted, it was tough for everyone these days, particularly tough for artists, and particularly, particularly tough for female artists. But just last week, her usually critical teacher, Hans Hofmann, proclaimed that one of her paintings was so good he would never have believed it was painted by a girl. He'd meant it as the highest compliment, and she'd taken it as such.

She had the mural job, which was no little thing, and she was happy, proud, of that, although it was difficult to get the galleries to show anything painted by a girl, especially if the paintings were abstract. But if she was going to spend her days working representationally, she damn well wasn't going to do the same on her own time just to please some pigheaded gallery owner. So she went to the Shop to drink and gripe with her like-minded comrades.

Lee leaned toward Alizée's desk, her eyes shining wickedly. "Forgot to tell you Bill and Jack said they can't make it to the Shop until a bit later, but Mark said he'd be there around five, so let's leave here on the early side."

Alizée shrugged.

Lee grinned. "He's such a wonderful, sweet bear of a man."

Alizée picked up a piece of pastel and bent over her work, shielding her face with her hair.

"Oh those soft, sensuous lips . . ." Lee whispered in her ear.

Alizée shook her off with an awkward laugh. She wasn't about to discuss Mark. With Lee or with anyone else. There was nothing to discuss. Would never be.

She turned back to her mock-up: a miniature of the six-panel mural to be hung on the walls of a high-school dining hall in Washington, DC. Last week, she'd constructed a three-sided box, one-twelfth the size of the actual dining room with cutouts for the windows and doors. This week, she was using pastels to color in the six panels, at one-twelfth their size, and would hang them on the tiny walls exactly as they would be at the high school. This was the final step before the actual painting on canvas would begin. When the panels were complete, they would be shipped to DC and pasted on the walls.

It felt like playing instead of working, although it was most definitely work. This warehouse and much more were part of President Roosevelt's New Deal: the WPA, FAP, TRAP, PWA, a whole alphabet of programs funded by the government in the hope of ending the Depression. Unfortunately, these programs had been going on for almost as long as Alizée had been in France, and still no one seemed to have any money.

Occasionally bureaucrats appeared at the warehouse and stood around looking decidedly ill at ease in their suits and bowler hats. The president's wife came once, but she was completely at ease. Mrs. Franklin Roosevelt climbed up ladders, unconcerned that she might get paint on her dress. She stopped and talked with the artists, asking questions and listening intently to the answers. Even answers from the assistants. You'd never see Mme. Albert Lebrun or Mme. Léon Blum do anything like that.

Alizée didn't much miss university in Paris or even the brief touch of success she'd had there, but she did miss her family. Often quite desperately: Oncle and Tante, who'd swooped in after her parents were killed and raised her as their own; Babette, who'd squeezed her hand and whispered, "I'm more than your cousin now, I'm your sister," on the night she first arrived; her older brother, Henri; little cousin Alain. All of them on the other side of the ocean.

But Henri would be coming to the States as soon he completed his exams, and Babette and her family, currently in Germany, talked of coming over, too. Alizée had given up a lot to return to America, but it was exactly where she wanted to be. She told herself this when the sorrow and loneliness she kept coiled deep inside pressed beyond the margins she worked so hard to maintain.

In New York, she was free to paint in the style of the moderns, something she'd been yearning to do. To study at the feet of Hans Hofmann with no fear of the octopus reach of Adolf Hitler's decrees against modern art, his desire to suppress anything that didn't smack of militarism and obedience. Especially if it was nonfigurative. The impact of his 1937 exhibition titled Entartete Kunst—Degenerate Art—deriding Picasso, Van Gogh, Matisse, Chagall, and many others, was unfortunately being felt across Europe, even in Paris. In New York, she could lose herself to the newness of abstraction, the fever of it, drawn to its insubstantial yet substantial nature, its difficulty and the wonder of the intuitive connections. This was worth everything.

It bothered her that there wasn't a single abstract mural being constructed in the warehouse. FDR didn't like modern art much more than Hitler did, and the president wanted the WPA paintings to be representations of what they were calling "the American Scene." Putain. Didn't they understand that you could represent the American scene without being representational?

The mural to the right of Alizée's, headed for a post office in Lexington, Massachusetts, was even more wooden than the shipbuilders. A completely flat depiction of Paul Revere's ride. The mural to the left was much better, in the style of the Mexicans, full of colorful ironworkers laboring amid exaggerated piping and sprockets and looming machines. But for all its boldness and action, it, too, was completely figurative.

There was a commotion behind her, and she turned to see Eleanor Roosevelt striding through the door, followed by a cadre of men in business suits. The director and two supervisors swooped down on them, and soon more than a dozen men surrounded the First Lady.

"I thought she wasn't coming until next week," Alizée whispered to Lee, although there was no reason to speak softly: the room was abuzz. Mrs. Roosevelt was a moving force behind the WPA/FAP, and every artist on the floor revered her for that.

Lee stared at the president's wife. "She's so tall."

"That's all you can say about the most amazing woman in the world?"

Lee looked at Alizée with a straight face. "She's so tall."

They watched the First Lady with the fawning men. Although she was close to six feet, Mrs. Roosevelt stood upright and radiated an interest in her surroundings that was palpable. There was no doubt this was a woman who made things happen.

"Bet she'd like to talk to a girl," Alizée said. "Let's go over there."

"Yeah, like those swelled heads are going to let us join their little coffee klatch."

It was even worse than that: when it was announced that the First Lady was coming, the rank and file had been ordered not to bother her. They were to pretend she wasn't there, to keep working, even harder than usual, and only speak if spoken to. Like good little children.

Alizée looked at their mural, at Paul Revere's ride next to it, at the ironworkers. All so uninspired and conventional. Someone needed to open horizons, to let new ideas in. And who better than Eleanor Roosevelt? Alizée touched her mother's engagement ring, which always hung on a chain between her breasts: a conduit. Stay with me, Maman. She stood.

"What?" Lee demanded.

"I'm going to ask her why there aren't any abstract murals. See if she can do anything about it."

"You could get kicked off the project," Lee insisted. "Don't."

Alizée strode toward the assemblage and edged in close to the First Lady. Exhilarated by her boldness, she waited for her moment, heart pounding.

One of the supervisors, an overweight middle-aged man named Norton Zimmern, met her eye and gave his head a sharp tilt toward her desk. She hesitated. She couldn't afford to lose this job. But Norton was an old windbag, full of noise and little action, and this was important. She slipped to the other side of Mrs. Roosevelt.

When Mrs. Roosevelt stepped toward another mural, Alizée intercepted her. "I just want to thank you for this opportunity, Mrs. Roosevelt." Alizée's eyes were inches below the First Lady's, a rare occurrence for one who was used to being the tallest girl in any group.

"You're most welcome, I'm sure," Mrs. Roosevelt said politely, but kept moving.

"I'm Alizée Benoit," she said, thrusting her hand out. "And if it weren't for you, I'd be stuffing envelopes—if I were lucky enough to get that job—instead of painting."

The First Lady had no choice but to shake Alizée's hand. "I'm so happy to hear that, Miss Benoit. That was exactly our intention. If we're going to pay plumbers and carpenters for their work, why not pay artists to do theirs?"

"And this way you get original art in the places the plumbers and carpenters build." Alizée heard the artificiality in her own voice and flushed. "I have a question for you."

Mrs. Roosevelt began to move away. "It was very nice to meet you, Miss Benoit," she said. "Please continue your good work."

Alizée sent up another call to her mother and fell in step with the First Lady. "I noticed that all of the WPA murals are representational," she continued as if she hadn't just been dismissed, "and wondered why there's only one style. Why not some abstract murals, too? There are lots of us doing nonrepresentational work right here in New York. All over the country. It's innovative, forceful, and very American. So I was thinking it should be included, and I wondered if you agreed."

Mrs. Roosevelt's eyes flashed with merriment. "And what is it about this abstract art that makes it so innovative and forceful?"

Alizée took a deep breath. "It goes deep. Much deeper than just a picture of what we can already see. It's not easy to make sense of—or to paint—but when you do, there's nothing like it. It's magical, really. Interpreting what's going on inside." She tapped her heart. "And then putting it on the outside. The real experience of living."

The First Lady stopped walking. "I don't understand."

Alizée vibrated with the need to articulate this, to make Mrs. Roosevelt appreciate what burned inside her. "We want to get at what life feels like. The emotions we all share. Our commonality. To make our invisible life visible. Or," she added lamely, frustrated with her inability to put it into words, "or experienceable."

"I'm very sorry, my dear"—Mrs. Roosevelt gave a small laugh—"but the president likes pictures where he can recognize people. I'm not sure he'd recognize emotions."

"But you might." Alizée touched the ring again. "If you just gave it a chance."

Norton tapped her arm. "I'm sure Mrs. Roosevelt would like to see the rest of the murals."

"I'm sure she would," Alizée agreed, turning back to the First Lady. There was no point in retreating now. "I know you're very busy, but if you'd like to come to my studio, I can show you some of my paintings. That way you'll be able to understand better what I wasn't very good at describing."

"Why, that's a lovely offer, Miss Benoit," Mrs. Roosevelt said in a tone that conveyed she actually meant it. "I may just take you up on that."

"Please do," Alizée said. "And if you like anything you see, I'd love you to have it. I'd give it to you, of course. A gift." She grabbed a small scrap of paper, scribbled her address, and offered it. "And maybe you'll decide that abstract art should be a part of the WPA."

Mrs. Roosevelt took the address and dropped it in her pocketbook, then looked at Alizée, obviously trying to contain her amusement. "And if the WPA did deem abstract art worthy, I'm guessing you have an idea of how you'd like to be involved?"


  • “B. A. Shapiro makes the radical, varied, and sometimes enigmatic world of abstract expressionism altogether human and accessible in her smart new historical thriller. …It has more emotional ballast and is more skillfully written than what one customarily finds. The novel evokes the horror and sorrow of the Holocaust in just their tedious administrative tasks of retracing steps, of sifting through wreckage. Shapiro also does a wonderful job of restoring complexity to the historical moment and stripping away the clarity of retrospection.” The Boston Globe

    “Shapiro’s plotting is deft, and the anonymous paintings and Alizée’s disappearance add mystery and intrigue to the tale. Like her well-received 2012 novel, “The Art Forger,” this new story takes us into the heart of what it means to be an artist. …vibrant and suspenseful. As tens of thousands of modern-day asylum-seekers from the Middle East and Africa surge into Europe, and pictures of their mistreatment are broadcast around the world, “The Muralist” is a grim reminder that history continues to repeat itself.” —The Washington Post

    “B.A. Shapiro captivated us in 2012 with her “addictive” novel The Art Forger. Now, she’s back with another thrilling tale from the art world, set right on the brink of World War II.” —Entertainment Weekly

    The Muralist is, like What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman or Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, a historical novel that brings the 20th century to life…” USA Today

    “Shapiro follows the enthusiastically received The Art Forger (2012) with an even more polished and resonant tale. [Her] novel of epic moral failings is riveting, gracefully romantic, and sharply revelatory; it is also tragic in its timeliness as the world faces new refugee crises.” Booklist (starred review)

    “Shapiro’s writing pulses with energy…. The Muralist brings the time period and setting to life. Readers will appreciate Shapiro’s seamless integration of fact into the story and will feel immersed in a time when the world tipped into chaos. Art, history, and mystery — an intriguing and satisfying blend.”Washington Independent Review of Books

    “In The Muralist, novelist B.A. Shapiro deftly layers American art history, the facts of World War II and the fictitious stories of Alizee and Dani. …The Muralist is a compelling mystery. …The Muralist elevates Shapiro to an even higher plane and is sure to be a crowning touch in an already celebrated career.” —BookPage

    “In this noirish intrigue and fine-art detective story, Shapiro ably intersects the early years of the abstract expressionist movement, the Roosevelts, institutionalized anti-Semitism that denied American visas to Jewish refugees, the relentless run-up to World War II, and the generational losses of the Shoah. Mystery and historical fiction lovers…will find this a riveting read.” Library Journal (starred review)

    “Engaging … Shapiro convincingly portrays the work of the artist as an agent of expression and hope in a world of despair.”The New York Jewish Week

    “[Shapiro] knows how to craft a page-turner. The Muralist is certainly an engrossing tale. Perhaps it will also send a few readers to the Museum of Modern Art for a fresh look at the craft of Rothko, Pollock, and their contemporaries. That would be a wonderful, and very un-abstract, mingling of art and real life.” —New York Journal of Books 

On Sale
Nov 3, 2015
Page Count
352 pages
Algonquin Books

B.A. Shapiro

B. A. Shapiro

About the Author

B. A. Shapiro is the bestselling author of The Collector's ApprenticeThe Muralist, and The Art Forger, which won the New England Book Award for Fiction and the Boston Authors Society Award for Fiction, among other honors. Her books have been selected as community reads in numerous cities and translated throughout the world. Before becoming a novelist, she taught sociology at Tufts University and creative writing at Northeastern University. She and her husband, Dan, divide their time between Boston and Florida.

Learn more about this author