This is the my first book by Ian Frazier, who is a renouned American author and humorist, but I will certainly read more of his works.
Although starting rather slow and seemingly burdened with details, the book develops into encompassing and entertaining account of the author’s 4 visits to Siberia, one of which is an epic summer journey by car from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok and another, no smaller achievement – covers the coldest Siberia regions in the harsh winter months.
If you are willing to learn a lot about Russian history – you will. Ian Frazier covers quite meticulously important parts of Russia’s history, not only political, but also cultural. And the main value of these historical accounts is the author’s focus on the human part of the historic events and the description of the main actors.
Along his journey the author is accompanied by a Russian fellow – Sergey. Most of the time there is tension between them, but in the end they complete together not only the summer, but also the winter journey, which makes their relationship even more complex and interesting.
Despite his numerous negative experiences in Siberia, Ian Frazier succeeds to present his travel in such humorous and lighthearted manner, richly soaked in self irony, that you instantly start envying him for his journey and dreaming about travelling at least part of the route.
More details about the book from Amazon:
“In his astonishing new work, Ian Frazier, one of our greatest and most entertaining storytellers, trains his perceptive, generous eye on Siberia, the storied expanse of Asiatic Russia whose grim renown is but one explanation among hundreds for the region’s fascinating, enduring appeal. In Travels in Siberia, Frazier reveals Siberia’s role in history—its science, economics, and politics—with great passion and enthusiasm, ensuring that we’ll never think about it in the same way again.
With great empathy and epic sweep, Frazier tells the stories of Siberia’s most famous exiles, from the well-known—Dostoyevsky, Lenin (twice), Stalin (numerous times)—to the lesser known (like Natalie Lopukhin, banished by the empress for copying her dresses) to those who experienced unimaginable suffering in Siberian camps under the Soviet regime, forever immortalized by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in The Gulag Archipelago.
Travels in Siberia is also a unique chronicle of Russia since the end of the Soviet Union, a personal account of adventures among Russian friends and acquaintances, and, above all, a unique, captivating, totally Frazierian take on what he calls the “amazingness” of Russia—a country that, for all its tragic history, somehow still manages to be funny. Travels in Siberia will undoubtedly take its place as one of the twenty-first century’s indispensable contributions to the travel-writing genre.”
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