ANDREI MAKINE BELONGS to a select group of authors, like Conrad and Nabokov, who have achieved critical success writing in a foreign language. He also shares with William Golding the more dubious distinction of having had his first novel rejected. His ostracism was due to intellectual snobbery rather than moral revulsion. Nobody in Paris wanted to print a novel written in French by an unknown Russian language-teacher. Malune wrote his book while sleeping rough in Paris's Psre Lachaise cemetery, but he could only get his work published by pretending it had been translated from Russian. Thus his debut, A Hero's Daughter, appeared in France in 1990, purportedly translated by one Françoise Bour.
A Hero's Daughter tells the story of Ivan Demidov, Soviet Second world War veteran coming to terms with perestroika. By the 1980s the Soviet victory is a distant memory and it has been overshadowed by the bloody conflict in Afghanistan. Demidov is