The cunning of its layout – wide margins, generous print – cannot conceal the fact that, like so much of Andreï Makine’s fiction, this book is remarkably short. In its poetic conciseness, his work has always reminded me of the novellas that won Ivan Bunin the distinction, denied to Tolstoy and Chekhov, of becoming (in 1933) the first Russian to win the Nobel Prize. That Makine himself, a native Russian now writing in French, will one day win that prize is something that I have already predicted in print.
A certain type of woman, whose glamour, surviving into middle age, derives in part at least from her mystery, recurs in this author’s work. In what I regard as the finest of his novels, the remarkable Requiem for the East, we are introduced to the Frenchwoman Sasha. After the Revolution