Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

  • List Price: $15.00
  • Save: $5.75 (38%)
FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books.
Only 9 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
The Life of an Unknown Ma... has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Like New
Comment: SHIPS DIRECTLY FROM AMAZON. Book is sharp with only minor wear. Has a publisher's remainder mark.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The Life of an Unknown Man: A Novel (Lannan Translation Selection (Graywolf Paperback)) Paperback – June 5, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

See all 8 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$1.16
Paperback
"Please retry"
$9.25
$5.25 $0.01

Midair
Four girls on a trip to Paris suddenly find themselves in a high-stakes game of Truth or Dare that spirals out of control. Learn More
$9.25 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. Only 9 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • The Life of an Unknown Man: A Novel (Lannan Translation Selection (Graywolf Paperback))
  • +
  • A Woman Loved: A Novel
  • +
  • Brief Loves That Live Forever: A Novel
Total price: $28.37
Buy the selected items together


Editorial Reviews

Review

“It is impossible to exaggerate the power of this short, unbearably poignant novel. It is both brutal and lyrical. Makine consciously invokes Chekhov but his grasp of history is positively Tolstoy-like in scale. I can't think of a writer who would be a more deserving recipient of the Nobel literature prize.” ―Mail on Sunday

“Makine's laconic, sardonic portrait of the new Russia is laced with fury . . . a bold and eloquent novel.” ―The Guardian

“Like all his work, this novel has a wonderful flavor of a contemporary Chekhov with a splash of Proust. . . . What starts out an intimate account bursts out into something more ambitious and universal. Ultimately it's a haunting story, beautifully told.” ―The Observer

“Seamlessly translated by Geoffrey Strachan, Makine's novel explores the attempt of two 'ordinary' people to transcend suffering and find life's essential meaning. It is difficult to write without sentimentality about such a subject, but Makine's intelligence and truthfulness dismiss banality.” ―Pamela Norris, Literary Review

“Told with an intimacy made potent by Makine's lyrical, spare prose and Strachan's lucid translation. . . reconnects both the reader and the protagonist with Russia's blood soaked history, to startling effect.” ―The Financial Times

“Thrilling . . . Makine's most beautiful novel since [Dreams of My Russian Summers].” ―Le Figaro

About the Author

Andreï Makine's fourth novel, Dreams of My Russian Summers, has sold over a million copies and has been translated into twenty-eight languages. Geoffrey Strachan is an award-winning translator.

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Series: Lannan Translation Selection (Graywolf Paperback)
  • Paperback: 194 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press; Reprint edition (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155597614X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555976149
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #779,708 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Friederike Knabe VINE VOICE on November 14, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
The life-sustaining power of love and music is a central theme in Andrei Makine's most recent novel, "The Life of an Unknown Man". Nostalgia for a happier and innocent past has overcome fifty-something writer Ivan Choutov, a former Soviet dissident, living for the last twenty years in Paris. His work and life appear to be at a standstill. His much younger girlfriend is moving out, leaving him to ponder his own young love from his past life in Leningrad. Overcoming his long-held reluctance to reconnect with his hometown, he returns to St. Petersburg. And here the real story, the story within a story, emerges. Makine, acknowledged master of exploring the innermost nooks and pathways of the human heart, has reached a new level of depths with this most powerful, deeply stirring and far reaching exploration of the human condition set against the backdrop of historical times of hardship and dangers, but also of endurance, determination and hope.

Revisiting St. Petersburg after twenty years is a shock to Choutov. There is little that reminds him of the place he knew, the Russia he had been dreaming of: "a life cradled by beloved poems; a park under the golden canopy of leaves, a woman, walking in silence, like the heroine of a poem." His own youth's heroine, the girl of his melancholy dreams, has grown into a modern business woman with no time for the "old" romantic visitor. The depiction of the modern St. Petersburg, vibrant, youthful, fast-paced and a bit crazy - seemingly more "westernized" than the cities of Western Europe - is convincingly realistic. Wandering the streets of the festive city, Choutov, however, feels increasingly alienated and discouraged. Where to go from here, where to find some inner peace and, above all, his emotional home?
Read more ›
6 Comments 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The second Andrei Makine book I’ve read, “The Life of an Unknown Man,” is every bit as good—and as curious—as the first, “Dreams of My Russian Summers.” Both books tell of an uprooted Russian who becomes a Frenchman, now uncomfortable in both places, writing in French, thinking in Russian. The Unknown Man is an unsung hero of the Great Patriotic War who survived the siege of Leningrad, the battle of Kursk and years in the Gulag. He is discovered by the Franco-Russian narrator decades later, mute and infirm and about to be trucked off to a retirement home to die. Except he isn’t mute, he just needs someone to tell his story to.

The book is brief, but the narrative has a “Zhivago”esque sweep. The veteran’s tale of lost love and a life in limbo is counterpointed by the lovesickness of the equally displaced narrator, who has returned to his native Russia to recover from a failed affair in Paris. Structurally, the contrast is entirely in the old veteran’s favor, an epic overshadowing a sketch. The book is built as a series of short episodes, shellbursts illuminating a few moments of ecstasy and many of suffering. Russia’s tragedy and present-day triviality have rarely been depicted so forcefully.
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
(4.5 stars) Ivan Shutov, a Russian author/critic in his fifties, now living in Paris, is brooding about his difficulty getting his work published, about the current lack of real romance in his life, and about the incipient departure of his lover, a young woman who has fed his ego for two and a half years. Impatient and self-centered, he has been indifferent to her own needs, unable to recognize that she is a real person with her own ideas. Instead, he sees her in terms of his creative writing, looking at her and their relationship from afar - as if he were a participant in a fictional romantic scene which includes her as a character. He believes that his mistake in the relationship has been "his desire to love Lea as one loves a poem."

Focusing on the attitudes and beliefs of four time periods, author Andrei Makine analyzes what it means to be human; whether an individual is important in his own right or only as part of a community; what makes life worth living; why humans sacrifice their lives for people and causes they love; and how and why individuals express themselves in art, literature, or music. Shutov's favorite authors, Chekhov and Tolstoy, whom he often quotes, are from the early twentieth century, yet they symbolize for Shutov the values he longs for, even at the beginning of the twenty-first century, something Makine illustrates in Parts I and II. Georgy Lvovich, known as Volsky, a character with whom Shutov has a life-changing experience in Parts III and IV, has survived the Siege of Leningrad in the 1940s, then has had to deal with the terrible aftermath of the war - the communist crackdowns and mass arrests in the `fifties and `sixties.
Read more ›
2 Comments 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition
WARNING: Some readers may feel I have given away too much of the story.

Ivan Shutov was a Russian dissident writer of the early 1980s; he is now living in Paris, aged around 50. He constantly translates every experience into a literary phrase, often from Russian literature. He is old enough to be the father of his lover Léa who has just left him for someone of her own age after one of their many quarrels about literature, in which he had become increasingly aggressive in dismissing the modern literature she loves. Even when she is moved by the tragedy of a Chekhov story which he loves, he feels compelled to savage her emotion, claiming that these tragedies are trivial compared with what he has witnessed in Soviet Russia and as a soldier in Afghanistan. He could not help making such savage comments even though he knew they were destroying their relationship. When, inevitably, she left him, but he missed her desperately.

Life in Paris was now so empty for him that, twenty years after he had left, he returned to Russia, now that the Soviet Union had collapsed. He has tracked down Yana, who had been a fellow-student with whom he had had "a brief undeclared love affair".

The Paris part of the novel was not all that easy to read - the emotions were all rather complex; ideally the allusions to Russian literature require some prior knowledge of it. But now there is more clarity in the story-telling.

Of course Shutov is returning to a Russia utterly transformed, with materialism rampant. Yana is not the thick-set matron he had expected her to turn into, but a svelte, glamorous, vulgar nouveau-riche, who has just acquired a number of workers' flats she has turned into a vast apartment.
Read more ›
Comment 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

The Life of an Unknown Man: A Novel (Lannan Translation Selection (Graywolf Paperback))
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: The Life of an Unknown Man: A Novel (Lannan Translation Selection (Graywolf Paperback))

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Pages with Related Products. See and discover other items: roman fiction