It is 1972. Bernard Robins is in London - American, innocent, uninformed and arrogant - to make his name and fortune as a pianist, composer and conductor. He lives at the Kensington Music Society, a haven for aspiring musicians, including afro-headed violinists, cellists in caftans and coloraturas from Colorado. During his time there, Bernard accidentally encounters his long lost great-uncle, Hermann Heinrich Zweck, a nonagenarian - a once eminent, now forgotten composer, who has known most of the great musical figures of the Twentieth Century and hated almost all of them. Zweck is engaged in a war against stupidity, laziness and cowardice with the world, along with Bernard and with Charles Forsythe - a hapless English musicologist whose only crime, (grievous in Zweck's view) is to be both English and an academic. The romantic relationships the three principals have with strong women, ranging from promiscuity to endless love, change the lives of all concerned. Throughout the novel, Zweck engages in a battle of words with the author in a series of interruptions and monologues. Comically written by an author skilled in both writing and music, Zweck is an accessible and hilarious novel about fame, identity, music and dumplings.