The Past is Another Country

Peter Wludyka, Author Simon & Schuster $18.45 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-65253-1
This ebullient first novel takes place in Charleston, S.C., six decades after the ``Great Uprising,'' when, according to Party history, the citizens of the U.S. happily joined the Soviet Union. High school senior Alex Nurov has been ac cepted into Moscow Universityno mean feat for an Amrussky (half American, half Russian). Disregarding the law that says all unauthorized books must be reported, Alex is absorbed in an illicit manuscript he has found. Written by a priest shortly before the uprising, it is a confessional memoir that describes historical events in a much different fashion from what he has learned in school, and from what he finds in the DAL computer system that his father, a deputy minister, has been teaching him to use. Alex begins to find clues, however, that support the book's assertions. At the same time that he is struggling over the fact that the world as he knows it is an immense lie, he meets an American girl and has sex for the first time. He also has an almost-requited crush on a Russian girl at school. With elements of science fiction and political polemicism, this is also partly a story of detection, with an intriguing twist. Although he indulges in some heavy-handed didactics and tends to stereotype, Wludyka's controlled, precise prose complements his ability to put himself into the shoes of a 17-year-old. (September)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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