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The Archipelago of Another Life Reviews

The Archipelago of Another Life by Andrei Makine, Geoffrey Strachan

The Archipelago of Another Life

Andrei Makine, Geoffrey Strachan

Score pending

1 review

Imprint: MacLehose Press
Publisher: Quercus Publishing
Publication date: 9 Jul 2019
ISBN: 9780857057938

A tense "Siberian Western" set in the inhospitable, boundless Russia taiga at the height of the Cold War

4 stars out of 5
3 Sep 2019

"potently reminds us how the totalitarian mindset... remains the heart of darkness most worth resisting"

A singularly Conradian novel (from a singularly Conradian author), at its heart is the retelling of a fabled pursuit, many years before, of an escaped prisoner from a Siberian gulag. The teller is Pavel Gartsev who, as a Red Army reservist, was part of the original search party... It is a shame that the sensible conventions of a review forbid me from saying more about the last quarter of the novel, because those pages are some of the most moving. It’s also a shame that Geoffrey Strachan’s faithful translation struck a stiff note that contributed to the occasional emotional ponderousness. For all its shortcomings, though, The Archipelago of Another Life potently reminds us how the totalitarian mindset – whether in Conrad’s Congo, Stalin’s USSR, or today’s flickerings of fascism in uncountable places around the globe – remains the heart of darkness most worth resisting.

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