An astounding novel that penetrates the 20th-century experience, from one of Europe's most feted authors
In present-day France a Russian writer recalls his harsh childhood at a Stalingrad orphanage in the 1960s and the old Frenchwoman, a family friend, whose tales fed his dreams of a better world. One story in particular has stayed with him: that of her brief, passionate affair, during World War II, with the French fighter pilot Jacques Dorme, who subsequently died in a plane crash in the Siberian mountains. So the narrator decides to retrace Jacques Dorme's steps, beginning a journey which leads him not only to revisit the land of his birth but also to see his adopted homeland in an unflattering new light. A profound and moving novel about the dangers of ideology and of war, delivered with humour, sensuousness and great lyricism.
The year's finest novel . . . a truly remarkable achievement. Makine will surely one day win the Nobel Prize. - Francis King, Books of the Year, Spectator
Undisputedly a novelist of genius . . . a remarkable work - Spectator
One of the most extraordinary novels I've read for a long time . . . endlessly fascinating and beautifully written - Sunday Herald
Hold[s] the reader in an emotional captivity from which there is no escape till long after the book has been put down - Andrey Kurkov, Guardian
This is a novel to read, and read again, with ever-deepening admiration. - Allan Massie, Literary Review
One of the greatest European novelists of our time . . . When you leave a Makine novel, you are simultaneously bereft and enriched. - Herald
With remarkable concision, he takes what could be vast and weighty topics - nationality, identity, memory and truth - and creates a series of unforgettable images and incidents. - Daily Mail
'I was mightily impressed by The Earth and Sky of Jacques Dorme . . . it's beautifully crafted and still resonates. A modern masterpiece." - George Rosie, Books of the Year, Sunday Herald
Andrei Makine was born in Krasnoyarsk in Siberia in 1957, but sought asylum in France in 1987. While initially sleeping rough in Paris he was writing his first novel, A HERO'S DAUGHTER, which was eventually published in 1990 after Makine pretended it had been translated from the Russian, since no publisher believed he could have written it in French. With his third novel, ONCE UPON A RIVER LOVE, he was finally published as a 'French' writer, and with his fourth, LE TESTAMENT FRANCAIS, he became the first author to win both of France's top literary prizes, the Prix Goncourt and Prix Medicis. Since then Andrei Makine has written THE CRIME OF OLGA ARBYELINA, REQUIEM FOR THE EAST, A LIFE'S MUSIC, which won the Grand Prix RTL-Lire, THE EARTH AND SKY OF JACQUES DORME, THE WOMAN WHO WAITED, HUMAN LOVE and THE LIFE OF AN UNKNOWN MAN.