An extraordinary story of love and endurance during the Siege of Leningrad lies at the heart of a magnificent novel about Russia past and present, and the human condition.
One night in St Petersburg, two men meet, both adrift in the brash new Russia: Shutov, a writer visiting after years of exile in Paris, and Volsky, an elderly survivor of the Siege of Leningrad and Stalin s purges. His life story one of extreme suffering, courage and an extraordinary love he considers unremarkable. To Shutov it is a revelation, the tale of an unsung hero that puts everything into perspective and suggests where true happiness lies.
Beautifully crafted and unashamedly romantic, building from an intimate love story something far more ambitious and universal - worthy of a place with the Russian greats. - Sunday Tasmanian
'It reiterates the author's passionate attachment to Russia, and his determination to celebrate individual humanity while excoriating the oppressive politics that have shaped our present reality. - The Canberra Times
Andrei Makine is a Russian living in Paris and writing in French, but his great 19thcentury forebears are everywhere in this book. - The Age
Makine's laconic, sardonic portrait of the new Russia is laced with fury...a bold and eloquent novel - Helen Dunmore, Guardian
Makine is a consummate literary artist, but he is teacher as well as storyteller and, best of all, enchanter - Allan Massie, Scotsman
Seamlessly translated by Geoffrey Strachan, Makine s novel explores the attempt of two ordinary people to transcend suffering and find life s essential meaning. It is difficult to write without sentimentality about such a subject, but Makine s intelligence and truthfulness dismiss banality. - Pamela Norris, Literary Review
A powerful, thoughtful book about the reliability of memory and how time mutates the meaning of both literature and history. - Tina Jackson, Metro
His novels possess an eerie beauty invariably capable of surpassing the polemic...If he has an artistic kindred spirit it is most probably the South African Nobel laureate JM Coetzee - Eileen Battersby, Irish Times