They are virtual brothers, Arkady and Alyosha, young pioneers in Stalin's postwar world, marching to the clarion call of socialism, to the stirring beat of the drums. The future, they are assured, is bright and beautiful. But what, then, are those endless miles of barbed wire they encounter everywhere along their route?
This is the moving, two-generational tale of two families, those of Yakov Zinger and Pyotr Yevdokimov, fathers of the two young pioneers. Inseparable, the two men have been through the grueling war against the Germans, with all its horror and senseless carnage. Yakov—or Yasha, as he was known—emerged physically intact but scarred forever "from the moment he had been lifted out of a mountain of frozen bodies at a camp in liberated Poland.” Pyotr, a skilled sniper who operated behind the German lines, lost both his legs, not at the hands of the Germans, but as a result of an artillery "mistake" by his own forces. Together, in these postwar, Cold War years, the two families try to piece together their shattered lives.
Andreï Makine is an internationally best-selling author. He is the winner of the Goncourt Prize and the Medicis Prize, the two highest literary awards in France, for his novel Dreams of My Russian Summers, which was also a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. Makine was born in Siberia in 1957 and raised in the Soviet Union. Granted asylum in France in 1987, Makine was personally given French citizenship by President Jacques Chirac. He now lives in Paris. Arcade Publishing has published ten of Makine’s acclaimed novels in English.