THEY SAY YOU can’t tell a book by its cover, but sometimes you can. Lenin’s Embalmers is small and elegant, with a single image – the dead Lenin – superimposed upon its plain, black jacket. And that, more or less, sums it up. It is a small and elegant tale, the story of one of the many bizarre lives that were lived in the Soviet Union: a life centred around caring for the dead Lenin. It has no pretensions to mega- history, does not attempt to prove a world-historical thesis or reinvent a genre. But its simplicity is curiously compelling, the ordinariness of the prose enhancing the weirdness of the story.