The glittering, high-stakes world of classical piano competitions is not a place people often find themselves: It takes incredible dedication and expertise to gain entry to such a realm. However, Riku Onda’s novel “Honeybees and Distant Thunder” immerses readers into the lives of musicians that feel both fresh and familiar.

The story starts with a prelude in Paris where 16-year-old Jin Kazama is auditioning to participate in a piano competition. Jin is an outlier among the privileged musicians who typically compete: Without a settled home or an instrument to call his own, Jin lives with his single father, an itinerant beekeeper who travels across Europe for his work. Though the musical prodigy seems more at home in the soil and sunshine than at concert halls, when seated at a piano, he’s a revelation.

Honeybees and Distant Thunder, by Riku Onda,Translated by Philip Gabriel.432 pagesPEGASUS BOOKS, Fiction.