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The Life of an Unknown Man

A Novel
Andreï Makine; Translated from the French by Geoffrey Strachan
In The Life of an Unknown Man, Andreï Makine explores what truly matters in life through the prism of Russia's past and present.
Shutov, a disenchanted writer, revisits St. Petersburg after twenty years of exile in Paris, hoping to recapture his youth. Instead, he meets Volsky, an old man who tells him his extraordinary story: of surviving the siege of Leningrad, the march on Berlin, and Stalin's purges, and of a transcendent love affair. Volsky's life is an inspiration to Shutov—because for all that he suffered, he knew great happiness. This depth of feeling stands in sharp contrast to the empty lives Shutov encounters in the new Russia, and to his own life, that of just another unknown man . . .

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A deeply moving meditation on memory, history, love, and art by the author of Dreams of My Russian Summers

About the Author

Andrei  Makine
Credit: Hermance TRIAY/Opale
Andreï Makine was born in Siberia and has lived in France for more than twenty years. His novels include Dreams of My Russian Summers, The Life of an Unknown Man, and A Woman Loved. His work has been translated into more than forty languages.
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Geoffrey Strachan was awarded the Scott Moncrieff Prize for his translation of Le testament français (Dreams of My Russian Summers) in 1998. He has translated all of Andreï Makine's novels for publication in Britain and the United States.
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  • “[Makine’s] new novel feels like a last book, a meditation on lost love, the chaos of war, the terrible repetitions of history.”—Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
  • “Reading the new novel by the author of Dreams of My Russian Summers feels like encountering a rediscovered classic.”The Daily Beast
  • “A lyrical little novel about hope triumphing over adversity.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
  • “In deceptively simple, suffused language (there’s real iron underneath), Makine helps us relive an awful moment in the 20th century. A humbling read.”Library Journal
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