The Peoples Act of Love by James MeekSet in a time of great social upheaval, warfare, and terrorism, and against a stark, lawless Siberia at the end of the Russian Revolution, The People’s Act of Love portrays the fragile coexistence of a beautiful, independent mother raising her son alone, a megalomaniac Czech captain and his restless regiment, and a mystical separatist Christian sect. When a mysterious, charismatic stranger trudges into their snowy village with a frighteningly outlandish story to tell, its balance is shaken to the core.
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In a remote Siberian village, amid a lawless, unforgiving landscape, lives Anna Petrovna, a beautiful, willfully self-reliant widowed mother. A mystical, separatist Christian sect, a stranded regiment of restless Czech soldiers, and an eerie local shaman live nearby, all struggling against the elements and great social upheaval to maintain a fragile coexistence. This stranger, his bizarre story—if it is to be believed—and the apparent murder of the local shaman quickly become a flashpoint for this village: temperatures rise, alliances shift, and betrayals emerge. Anna Karenina. Magnificent…Meek never lets the narrative tension slack…. Delicious prose.
Set during the waning days of the Russian revolution, Meek's utterly absorbing novel after The Museum of Doubt captivates with its depiction of human nature in all its wartime extremes. In , the remote Siberian town of Yazyk contains a strange brew of humanity: the docile members of a mystical Christian sect, whose longing for purity drives them to self-mutilation; a small outfit of Czech troops, marooned by the civil war and led by the mad cocaine-snorting Captain Matula; and "the widow" Anna Petrovna, whose passion for worldly things e. When the charismatic revolutionary, Samarin, trudges into town with a harrowing tale of escape from a distant labor camp and a dangerous philosophy, Yazyk becomes a theater of bloodshed and betrayal as well as heroism and compassion. Using the town as a microcosm of the larger war, Meek illuminates both perverted ideology and irrepressible humanity. With confident prose, layered storytelling and prodigious imagination, he combines scenes of heart-pounding action and jaw-dropping revelations with moments of quiet tension and sly humor. This original, literary page-turner succeeds both with its credible psychological detail and in its grandeur and sweep. Six-city tour.
I obtained a proof copy of this spellbinding novel several months ago. It wouldn't be an overstatement to say that I was blown away. I immediately re-read the book, and again found myself full of admiration. When I picked up The People's Act of Love again recently, I thought that with the perspective of distance and little bit of mature reflection, I might be able to lower my sights somewhat. I was wrong.
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But Khodorkovsky, who was fishing for public sympathy closer to home, knew exactly what he was doing: there's no event in Russian history that has been more romanticized. In fact, few experiences have been as seminal to the Russian sense of national -- and especially literary -- identity as exile, often to a remote penal colony.
Michael Wood is a man of many parts. On Empson is out now. Literature and literary criticism , Fiction , Novels. Always ready to take our handouts. I knew the bar well. Or so he thinks.
This powerfully realised novel takes place in in Yasyk, a little town on the Yenisey river, about as far north as civilised life can be sustained, on the margin of the vast Siberian hinterland of reindeer-herders and the prison camps. The history of modern Russia is so grotesque that reality outstrips invention and Meek's story is structured around three genuine facts; that many thousands of Czech soldiers were left marooned in northern Russia by the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire; that secretive, utopian communities of voluntary eunuchs, called skoptsy, flourished there throughout the 19th century; and that there was a practice of taking a naive companion along on Siberian journeys with the intention of eating him. This is a novel well-populated by angels and devils, though one is sometimes hard put to say which is which. The story starts in two places. First, in a university town in , where two students, boy and girl, embrace the revolution and one another.