As in the Sufi tale of the four blind men describing an elephant, the four women in this complex but rewarding novel from bestseller Littell (A Nasty Piece of Work) each possesses a different truth about their late lover, the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, whom they are discussing around a recording device in a Moscow hotel room in 1953. The events they are talking about took place in the years just before and after the Russian Revolution. The ladies, Mayakovsky, and many of the minor characters are based on real people, and the relationships are pretty much as described. The author’s invention is in the differing interpretations of their multifarious relationships and the myriad of small facts that don’t make it into the history books. Mayakovsky was a “complicated man, trying on different versions of himself,” according to his anti-Bolshevik lover, Elly Jones. The Russian Revolution and its aftermath are viewed from varying angles, showing that truth is always contradictory and never simple. Agent: Ed Victor, Ed Victor Ltd. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/19/2016 Release date: 11/22/2016 Genre: Fiction
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