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In Siberia Paperback – December 26, 2000
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Woven among the often bitter and eroding memories of a Siberian past is a sense of new freedom. After all, this is the first time in Russia's history when foreigners can travel freely throughout the region--and its inhabitants can comment openly about their government without fear of reprisal. Thubron coaxes an institute official at the Akademgorodok Praesidium to speak his mind:
His face was heavy with anger. "We have one overriding problem here. Money. We receive no money for new equipment, hardly enough for our salaries. There are people who haven't been paid for six months." Then his anger overflowed. He was barking like a drill sergeant. "This year we requested funds for six or seven different programmes! And not one has been accepted by the government! Not one!"
Thubron's portrait is as elegant as it is evocative. But just as notably, his journey to the east manages to break the long and destructive Siberian silence. --Byron Ricks --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Speaking accented Russian in areas where Westerners were forbidden until only a few years ago, Thubron sometimes passes for a down-at-the-heels Estonian as he crosses Siberia, making forays north to desolate Arctic towns founded as Stalinist labor camps.
The people he meets stick in the memory, captured with the eye and ear of a novelist. (No surprise there: when not traveling, Thubron writes edgy, dark fiction.) In Rasputin's hometown of Pokrovskoe, Thubron meets Viktor, "a ghastly distillation" of the dark magician, a disturbing man shunned by other villagers. In the Arctic town of Vorkuta, where hundreds of thousands perished in labor camps during Stalin's reign, he finds an old woman watching dubbed Mexican soap operas. She is a faithful Communist, arrested in 1938 on a whispered denunciation and sent to the coal mines for a dozen years. Despite herself, and to Thubron's dismay, she still can't condemn the system that wasted her life. And then there are the babushkas in Omsk, celebrating the blessing of a pool of water near a new Orthodox monastery by plunging in with joyous abandon once the archbishop has moved on.Read more ›
Thubron seems intent on finding the sustaining spirit of his acquaintances; we encounter myriad variations of Russian Orthodox /Buddhist/atheist religion. We hear personal accounts of the labor camps of Stalin and Kruschchev that surpass even Solzhenisyn's descriptions. But more important we are introduced to the ordinary people of this vast country and Thubron shares these characters with insight and intelligent reportage that makes us feel as though we journeyed with him.
And this is supposed to be a Travel Book? I think not. This is a volume of first-hand information that leaves the reader enriched and empathetic.......an enormously fine read!
The surreal and tragic effect of this book builds relentlessly as it goes along. By the end, I felt like I had a sense of a place that went well beyond a familiarity with appearance, to a much more important (and difficult for an author to convey) sense of what it feels like. The unspeakable tragedy of this land - centered around the hideous legacy of the Stalinist years - is conveyed in a thorough, convincing and compelling way. You cannot read this book and remain untouched by it - it is powerful stuff.
A unique feature is the author's language and style, which is often very poetic. The juxtaposition of the fine writing with the often macabre and disturbing subject matter makes for a strong effect.
I haven't read any other books by this author, but I will before long. This is an excellent, and highly memorable piece of work. Highly recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
excellent book. Gives you a feel for the "lost people" of the new Russian and their unfortunate plight today. Marilyn RossPublished 18 months ago by marilyn r ross
I found this book difficult to read. I am not sure why unless it is the authors style and his use of the English language.Published 20 months ago by Robert A. Berge
Disappointing. Enjoyed similar "Lost and Found in Russia" by Susan Richards much better.Published 21 months ago by rudy abreu
"In Siberia" is a masterpiece of travel narrative as well as an enlightening though sombre account of a tragic history. Read morePublished on July 24, 2014 by islander
Colin Thubron is the best travel writer of our time.
His books are and always will be on my most treasured book shelf.
Beautiful, poetic writing along with interesting anecdotes on a more realistic level. good sense of humour. Read morePublished on March 17, 2014 by Joyce Lawrence