Magazine article Russian Life

The Librarian

Magazine article Russian Life

The Librarian

Article excerpt

THE LIBRARIAN

Mikhail Elizarov (Pushkin Press, $18.95)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

It has been said that the most vicious, uncompromising political battles take place inside nonprofits and university English departments. Such brutality in unexpected places lies at the heart of Elizarov's novel, in which seemingly unassuming, harmless members of Russia's 1990s intelligentsia take up maces, battleaxes and spears to wage bloody hand-to-hand combat for control over ... books.

But not just any books. They are the lost novels of an obscure Soviet author named Gromov that inexplicably reflect onto their possessors unusual powers (memory, bravery, fury, endurance) when read under the right conditions. And since possessing more books conveys more powers, there is something worth fighting for.

At the center of the action is the unassuming Alexei, who at the out-set finds he has inherited his Uncle Maxim's Siberian apartment, yet only belatedly does he discover he has also been bequeathed the Book of Memory. …

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