The first novel to win both the Prix Goncourt and Prix Medicis.
Locked behind the Iron Curtain, a young boy grows up bewitched by his French grandmother's memories of Paris before the Great War. Yet despite what he also learns of her suffering in the Soviet Union under Stalin and during the Second World War, as an adolescent he finds himself proud to be a Russian. Torn between the two cultures, he eventually makes a choice - which has a wholly unexpected outcome.
Capturing the powerful allure of illusion, this unforgettable novel traces a sentimental and intellectual journey that embraces the dramatic history of the twentieth century.
A superb novel about fantasy and reality...It is Makine's achievement to convey the essential, with economy, grace and beauty - Scotsman
Great literature, necessary and profound - Independent
He communicates brilliantly the exquisite agony of nostalgia - Literary Review
Beautifully written...A deceptively profound novel. Makine's wonderful economy of image and phrase convey far more than one could think possible about the Russian soul - Daily Telegraph