Accordion Crimes, a novel by E. Annie Proulx, traces the life of and routes travelled by a green diatonic button accordion: its birth in Sicily in the workshop of “The Accordion Maker,” its numerous changes of ownership in the Americas during encounters between various immigrant communities, and its death when it finally falls into disrepair in the town of Old Glory, Minnesota. There are other accordions in the book, and many temporary human owners, but it is one particular green accordion that is the book’s protagonist. We meet and experience other characters largely through their interactions with the green accordion, a character whose voice, we learn, “sounded hoarse and crying, reminding listeners of the brutalities of love, of various hungers” (Proulx 1996:22). This green accordion is not only central to human social networks, but is also itself an actor with agency. Seeing the extent to which Proulx’s human characters succumb to ill fate (while the accordion lives on), it would not be a stretch to suggest that the green accordion was one of the only characters with agency.
Bates, Eliot, "The Social Life of Musical Instruments" (2012). CUNY Academic Works.