Ivan Juritz

Diverse Debutants

Anthea Nicholson’s The Banner of the Passing Clouds (Granta Books 289pp £14.99) follows the life of an eccentric recording artist living under the Soviet occupation of Georgia. He is born on the night of Stalin’s death (the fittingly ordered 5.3.1953) and christened with the latter’s original name (Iosif Dzhugashvili). Soon enough he becomes convinced that the ‘old man of steel’ lives within the ‘spongy mass of [his] lungs’. Like Dostoyevsky’s Underground Man, he betrays his oddities – and, at times, his complicity in the events he narrates – in the weirdly selective details he chooses to note. When he accidentally foils his brother and sister-in-law’s defection by handing the KGB a tape of their nocturnal plotting, the fact that he has been recording them receives only passing mention – as does a snog with his girlfriend’s mother.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • RT : Founded in 1979, is a trusted independent source for reviews of new books across a variety of genres. A… ,
    • RT : Here we are - "Shelf Indulgence" by Ed Potten, a wonderful read, well worth your time: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Like going to a party hoping to get away as quickly as politeness allowed and at 4am finding myself still engrosse… ,
    • 'Neville never shed his sense of being the junior, and perhaps least-deserving Chamberlain.' From the archive, Mic… ,
    • 'The erecting and immediate destruction of a series of straw men rather detracts from what is for the most part an… ,
    • RT : A magnificent demolition job on this "acid laced tirade...unpleasantly self-obsessed...self pitying polemic...book… ,
    • 'Seventy years on, the time we have left to gather such first-hand testimony is running out.' John Keay on the sig… ,