Our life is brief . . .
The definitive English language translation of the internationally bestselling Russian novel - a brilliant dark fantasy combining psychological suspense, enchantment, and terror that makes us consider human existence in a fresh and provocative way.
`A book that has the potential to become a modern classic.'
Lev Grossman, bestselling author of The Magicians
Our life is brief . . .
While on holiday at the beach with her mother, Sasha Samokhina meets the mysterious Farit Kozhennikov under the most peculiar circumstances. The teenage girl is powerless to refuse when this strange and unusual man with a sinister air directs her to perform strange and uncomfortable tasks. He rewards her efforts with a strange golden coin.
As the days progress, Sasha carries out other acts for which she receives more coins from Kozhennikov. As summer ends, her new domineering mentor directs her to move to a remote village and use her gold to enter the Institute of Special Technologies. Though she does not want to go to this unknown town or university, she also feels that somehow it's the only place she should be. Against her mother's wishes, Sasha leaves behind all that is familiar and begins her education.
As she quickly discovers, the institute's `special technologies' are unlike anything she has ever encountered. The books are impossible to read, the lessons maddeningly obscure, and the work refuses memorization. Using terror and coercion to keep the students in line, the school does not punish them for their transgressions and failures; instead, their families pay a terrible price.
Yet despite her fear, Sasha undergoes changes that defy the dictates of matter and time; experiences which are nothing she has ever dreamed of... and suddenly all she could ever want.
A complex blend of adventure, magic, science, and philosophy, filtered through a distinct Russian sensibility, this astonishing work - brilliantly translated by Julia Meitov Hersey - is reminiscent of modern classics such as Lev Grossman's The Magicians, Max Barry's Lexicon, and Katherine Arden's The Bear and the Nightingale, but will transport them to a place fantastical and new.
MARINA AND SERGEY DYACHENKO are Ukranian co-authors of over seventy fantasy novels, short fiction, plays and scripts. The recipient of eight literary prizes and much critical acclaim in Russia, Vita Nostra has been translated into several languages. The Dyachenkos hail from Kiev and currently reside in California. Vita Nostra is their first novel published by HarperVoyager. JULIA MEITOV HERSEY was born in Moscow before moving to the United States in 1990 at the age of 19. Currently, she is at work on translation of other Russian to English projects. Julia originally began her translation of Vita Nostra because she wanted her non-Russian-speaking family to share her love for this striking novel.