From Publishers Weekly
In the first chapter of this learned meditation on one of the great writers of the twentieth century, Khruscheva fictionalizes a conversation with Nabokov, stringing together quotes from his oeuvre. "Hypothetical and literary concepts have a far greater hold on Russia's people than practical ones," says Kruscheva, but the same suspension of disbelief might be too much to ask of American readers. Later, the author tries to conjure Nabokov again "to see whether I had got him right." The result-one intelligent reader's semi-indulgent attempt to communicate the intentions, origins, and inspirations of a favorite author-is more about Khruscheva than Nabokov. Luckily, Khruscheva-a scholar of international affairs, a reader of Russian literature, a Russian émigré and the great-granddaughter of Nikita Khrushschev-is a remarkable one with a unique perspective on Russia's "impracticality and nonmaterialism" that resonates in its languages and literature. Nabokov, who wrote in both English and Russian, belongs in these Russian traditions, which Khruscheva considers "an example" to other literatures' "spiritual leadership. Spirit, soul is our greatest national achievement as well as our great national handicap." At times a sentimental book, this take on Nabokov's oeuvre gathers its themes-Nabokov, language, Russia-together in a loose weave at turns shapeless and captivating.
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“A very lively, funny, and informed piece of work, full of interesting opinions about Russia, the West, individual writers, and various national literatures.”—Michael Wood, Princeton University
"Combining literary criticism with political theory is often attempted and rarely done well. Nina Khrushcheva succeeds brilliantly in this highly original work. Her book deepens one's knowledge of Nabokov, Russia, and the condition of exile by mixing literary and political concerns without diminishing the importance or interest of either."—Ian Buruma, Henry Luce Professor of Democracy, Human Rights and Journalism, Bard College
“In her searching, thought-provoking meditation on Vladimir Nabokov’s reaction to exile from his native Russia, Dr. Khrushcheva gives us unique insights into the moral and intellectual struggle going on in Russia today. It is an important work, not only for admirers of Nabokov’s writings, but also for anyone who wishes to understand better what lies behind the dramatic and seemingly contradictory changes that are taking place in post-Soviet Russia.”—Jack F. Matlock, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to the USSR, 1987-1991; author of Autopsy on an Empire, and Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended
(Jack F. Matlock, Jr.)