But he is also highly regarded as a novelist. Night of Fire, his new book, weaves together the stories of the inhabitants of a fine old house, long broken up into flats, as a fire breaks out. Your last novel was published 14 years ago. Why have we had to wait so long for Night of Fire? Shadow of the Silk Road was very time-consuming — there were two long journeys from the Pacific to the Mediterranean, a lot of difficult cultures; there was trying to get back some of my Russian. And then this novel got bigger and bigger in my head, and started to run away from the usual novellas that I write.
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Jan 14, Jane rated it it was amazing the book was every bit as good as Id hoped. To you Russophiles out there: this is a book you definitely must read. To those of you out there with any interest in Russia at all, or with an interest in traveling to remote lands, I recommend this book to you as well. Thubrons prose is incredible, and throughout the book I found passages describing with incredible accuracy and beauty, things which I had seen during my brief foray into Siberia.
His descriptions of the vast, desolate beauty of the Siberian countryside far outdid anything I produced. Spirits infected the waters and peaks of all this country. Neither Christianity nor Communism had dislodged them. They were too pervasive, and too old. The rags shivered in the pines — requests, tributes — and the river-beds glistened with coins. Here and there hundred-ruble notes caught among the stones, pulled free again, floated away. He mentioned the island briefly, in regards to his trip past it by boat as he crossed Lake Baikal: By noon the far shore has misted away, and as the hydrofoil enters the channel between the western bank and the long, volcanic island of Olkhon, you are sailing over silk.
It is the last voyage of the year, and the boat seems almost empty. The island is bitter and rainless: an ancient stronghold of shamanism.
The Evenk knew that the sea god Dianda lived there, and the Buryats peopled it with an evil spirit, the voice of its seismic groaning.
The shores are unloosened even here, without rock or weed, and leak out only a salt or mineral trickle. To me, Olkhon was definitely worthy of more exploration, both physically and with the written word. However, given the sheer vastness of Siberia, I can forgive Thubron for not stopping at every possible destination. I also found myself wondering about the ease with which Thubron traveled throughout Siberia.
At every stop one encounters bureaucratic hoops through which one must jump in order to do just about anything i. It also helps exponentially to be able to speak Russian. While South Koreans are generally very helpful to non-Korean-speaking foreigners, Russians especially those who work in places — such as ticket-selling offices — who frequently come into contact with tourists tend to range from brusque to unhelpful Thubron obviously speaks Russian well or, despite the fact that he claimed to be traveling alone, he had an interpreter — one or the other , and I wish he had mentioned how he had learned Russian, and why.
The further I delved into his work, the more I began to wonder about him. Thubron wandered into many cities, towns and villages across Siberia — often seemingly at the spur of the moment — without any reservations, plans, or ideas as to where he might stay the night.
Granted, these little nit-picky details do not in any way detract from the beauty of this work
Jan 14, Jane rated it it was amazing the book was every bit as good as Id hoped. To you Russophiles out there: this is a book you definitely must read. To those of you out there with any interest in Russia at all, or with an interest in traveling to remote lands, I recommend this book to you as well. Thubrons prose is incredible, and throughout the book I found passages describing with incredible accuracy and beauty, things which I had seen during my brief foray into Siberia. His descriptions of the vast, desolate beauty of the Siberian countryside far outdid anything I produced. Spirits infected the waters and peaks of all this country.
Read a sample Book Summary An enormous and mysterious land, Siberia remains an exotic unknown that has haunted the imagination of Westerners for centuries. More than a travel book, In Siberia is a moving and profound portrait of a region rich with history and the remains of an intriguing prehistorical past , religions, and a profusion of fascinating peoples and cultures. Traveling alone, by train, boat, car, and on foot, Thubron explores this vast territory, talking to anyone he can find about the state of the country today and what it is like to live there. He finds a land of spectacular natural beauty, marked by the horrors of the Gulag and Soviet exploitation of its abundant natural resources. Beneath the permafrost, all too near the surface, lie bones and nuclear waste. And yet in counterpoise to the horror is the extraordinary human compassion he encounters: Wherever he goes, somebody takes him in and feeds him, no matter how poor they are.
Colin Thubron - In Siberia