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Requiem for the East Hardcover – 16 Aug 2001


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Hardcover, 16 Aug 2001
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; First English Edition edition (16 Aug 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340794356
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340794357
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 22.1 x 2.7 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,537,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

An awesome achievement, head and shoulders above any novel that I have read so far this year. (Francis King, Literary Review)

In an interview, Andrei Makine said: "the ideal novel is one that one can say nothing about; only enter it, live there in contemplation and find oneself changed by it." His own novels arrive at this ideal condition ... He demands, and deserves, your utmost attention. REQUIEM FOR THE EAST is a novel of great scope and rare economy ... In the past, I have compared Makine to Chekhov. But the intensity and soaring range of this novel makes it clear that his true master is Dostoevsky. Like Dostoevsky, he can carry his reader into the very depths of degradation to which human beings can be subjected, and yet never despair of life. He remains, astonishingly, an affirmative writer. There's no author writing today I admire more than Makine. This novel is extraordinary; it makes the work of most of us trying to write novels today seem sadly trite. (Allan Massie, Scotsman)

Andrei Makine has been compared to Nabokov, Chekhov, Proust. Far from flattering him, such plaudits barely begin to do him justice. (Sam Phipps, Spectator)

Andrei Makine has been compared to Nabokov, Chekhov, Proust. Far from flattering him, such plaudits barely begin to do him justice. It's true that some of his qualities - economy of language, fascination with memory and the past - do bring other writers to mind, but Makine has rare talents and a unique voice ... His last novel to be translated into English, CONFESSIONS OF A LAPSED STANDARD BEARER, was a brief, exquisite evocation of childhood in the postwar USSR. Not only did its narrator Alyosha totally convince ... but the compelling inner lives of the main characters were matched by a gripping story. REQUIEM FOR THE EAST is longer and perhaps more ambitious, but just as impressive ... It's not always the raw material itself that is startling but the approach, the imagery, as well as Makine's acute moral antennae ... the novel also mounts a challenge to the smug triumphalism of the West. Then again it's not primarily a polemical work. It's far too good for that. (Sam Phipps, Spectator)

As the dust settled on the Soviet Union, there were those who suggested that it would take several years for a real literature of the communist years to emerge, that voices so long circumscribed and dominated by political circumstance would need a decade or so to rediscover their pitch. Reading Andrei Makine's novel, it seems that those predictions were just about right ... Requiem for the East is perhaps his boldest novel yet, attempting to include in its carefully wrought pages a real history of his homeland from the first skirmishes of the revolution to the present day. This brutal biography is told through the lives of three generations of men from the same family ... Their successive lives add up to something like a pilgrim's progress of that mythical beast, the Russian soul. Makine treats his history episodically, capturing fragments that build into memorable fables. As well as being a war story, each of the three lives carries a graceful love story, too, and each contrives an elegiac ending. At times, Makine's eye for the telling detail of battle or the first stirring of romance is reminiscent of Michael Ondaatje, and he shares with him, too, a gift for extracting events that feel elemental from the rubble of the past ... Makine makes the compelling argument that the foot soldiers of the Red Army, facing the whims of tyranny whichever way they turned, were the real heroes of the century. By intimate accumulation of detail, he gives that history a resolutely human face and, in doing so, shifts an understanding of the century's upheavals a few degrees to the east. (Tim Adams, Observer)

There's no author writing today I admire more than Makine. This novel is extraordinary (Allan Massie, Scotsman)

Makine's eye for the telling detail of battle or the first stirring of romance is reminiscent of Michael Ondaatje (Tim Adams, Observer)

This is a book that is remarkable for its combination of grandeur and extreme concision ... The intricacies of espionage alternate with scenes in which Makine depicts, with resounding force and clarity, the two extremes of horror and heroism that make up recent Russian history. His accounts of the heedless killing of millions of people as part of a crazy attempt to forge an amalgam of disparate cultures and races into the most powerful empire in the world, and of the carnage inflicted upon ordinary Russians during the Second World War, are often all but unbearable. But to balance these, he interpolates acts of astonishing courage and altruism. From time to time he also evokes, in the middle of the turbulence, some lyrical but all too transient moment of peace or even happiness ... In Geoffrey Strachan's expert translation from the author's original French, these passages glow with a haunting lyricism ... the unique quality of Makine's book derives ... from his memorable depiction of a Dostoevskian world of good and evil, and the ever-present possibility of redemption ... an awesome achievement, head and shoulders above any novel that I have read so far this year. (Francis King, Literary Review)

The melancholy tone, rendered by Geoffrey Strachan's sensitive translation, is full of the nostalgia that accompanies change, even if the past is a tragic one ... Having been in 1995 the first novelist to win both of France's top literary prizes in the same year for Le Testament Francais, Makine has already established his readership. Powerful and intelligent, Requiem for the East, with its elegiac evocation of a past age, should extend that readership still further. (Alastair Sooke, Times Literary Supplement)

Makine has already established his readership. Powerful and intelligent, Requiem for the East, with its elegiac evocation of a past age, should extend that readership still further. (Alastair Sooke, Times Literary Supplement)

In Confessions of a Lapsed Standard Bearer, Andrei Makine's ... most distinctive novel, he articulated his disillusionment with the Soviet system while, at the same time, expressing his love of Russia in almost lyrical terms. Requiem for the East achieves the same feat. It is a powerful, passionate piece, epic in scope ... His heart-felt portrait of everyday life in Russia is the best possible antidote to political oversimplification. (David Robson, Sunday Telegraph)

As near to a masterpiece of fiction that we have had this year. (Francis King, Oldie Books of the Year)

A powerful, passionate piece, epic in scope (David Robson, Sunday Telegraph)

Makine's writing ... is subtly allusive and deceptively lyrical, so that the descriptions of extreme violence that occur at intervals in the narrator's past strike us all the more forcefully, coming against this background of tranquil reflection. Makine manages the different strands of the story with great skill, building towards the climax of the plot ... Makine's real subject is the 70-year history of the USSR, its horrors, its illusions, its deceptions and its heroism, recalled as a nightmare from which one has not yet fully managed to awake ... If you do not know Makine, Requiem for the East is an accomplished novel, and a good introduction to the work of an important European writer. (Robin Buss, Independent on Sunday)

Makine's genius, made more evident with each strange and compelling new novel that appears in English, is in his ability to tune narrative to the underlying harmonies in the cacophony of displaced and mutilated lives; to inhabit imaginatively the memories and desires of an incestuous aristocratic madwoman, or a crippled Siberian pornographer, or an out-of-service Soviet spy. The title of his most recent work, The Music of a Life, due to be published here next year, is apt for Makine's creative achievement as a whole. For it is through contemplating the 'infinite singularity and troubling uniqueness' of shattered individual lives that this prodigiously gifted Russian novelist, who chooses to write in French, the language of his own displacement, creates a serene, redemptive music. (Rachel Polonsky, Evening Standard)

Subtly allusive and deceptively lyrical ... Makine manages the different strands of the story with great skill (Robin Buss, Independent on Sunday)

Among [a] brutal distillation of human frailty there are also moments of great tenderness. The powerful central section deals with memory distorted by a disappointment that is moulded by love's loss ... [the] juxtapositioning between conceit and concealment is heightened by a repeated and sustained geographical metaphor that ebbs and flows in all six sections of the book. (Hayden Murphy, Glasgow Herald)

Makine's tone is resonant, his visual descriptions often meticulous ... the conclusion is beautiful and moving (Andrew Crumey, Scotland on Sunday)

A luminous, beautifully crafted new novel ... Makine writes lyrically, baring his struggling characters' emotions and vivifying their oft-chaotic backdrops with equal brio. The arc of the novel shows, above all, that life patterns repeat themselves; we watch the same conflicts playing themselves out in three life stories presented here...displays all the sensitivity and honesty of his acclaimed previous works. (Publishers Weekly (starred preview))

This book is a requiem for many things: not only for the Soviet Union but for love found and lost, for identity and truth (The Good Book Guide, London)

The best two novels I read were both by Andre Makine. Sceptre published REQUIEM FOR THE EAST, his end of empire novel. Even more remarkable is LA MUSIQUE D'UNE VIE, which will appear in English next year. (Allan Massie, Telegraph Books of the Year)

A luminous, beautifully crafted new novel (Publishers Weekly (starred preview))

Whereas books by distinguished English novelists far below their usual form received undeservedly generous coverage, that of a foreign masterpiece, was disgracefully skimpy. Through the sensibility of a single man - doctor, love, soldier, spy - a century of Russian history is potently distilled. (Francis King, Telegraph Books of the Year)

Book Description

A magnificent, elegiac novel spanning the history of Russia through the tumultuous 20th century, from the only writer ever to have won both the Prix Goncourt and the Prix Medici.

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