- Paperback: 506 pages
- Publisher: OPEN LETTER (12 Jan. 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1934824364
- ISBN-13: 978-1934824368
- Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 14 x 21.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 567,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Maidenhair Paperback – 12 Jan 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
I can't say enough about this book, and at the same time it can't be put into words... Definitely not a book for everyone, or that everyone may love, but it's certainly a book everyone should read, or at least know about. Shishkin is a prime candidate for the Nobel Prize.
Although it is ostensibly about an interpreter working with Chechen refugees in Switzerland, there is a lot more to it than that. Shishkin uses stories, diary entries, postcards and interviews to look at love, war, peace and freedom - the big things in life. Obviously, this is a Russian trait...
In my blog review, I compared it (unwisely?) to 'Cloud Atlas', but there are nods to many classic Russian writers, and there are definitely some Joycean bits there too. If that sounds like your kind of book...
If you're interested in my full review, have a look at my blog, Tony's Reading List :)
Why is the book important? Mikhail Shishkin is a prominent contemporary Russian novelist and Maidenhair in its original Russian won two major prizes. In this translation by Marian Schwartz (everything Marian translates is worthy of attention) it was shortlisted for the 2013 Best Translated Book Award. Maidenhair is serious literary fiction. It may not entirely qualify as 'experimental' (although somewhat unconventional in its story-telling, probably everything has been done before), and experiment is not entirely new to contemporary Russian fiction, but the novel may nevertheless serve as a pathfinder, encouraging other Russian authors to explore unconventional approaches.
The book opens with an intriguing account of the interview process for those seeking asylum in Switzerland. Entirely believably, Switzerland is not keen to take all comers and the interviews are designed to filter out all but the most clear-cut cases. That seems hard, but we soon learn that the stories told by some - perhaps many - would-be refugees, have been enhanced, borrowed, adapted, adopted from others, if they contain any truth at all.Read more ›