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.
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, and THE EARTH AND SKY OF JACQUES DORME.