cover image The Border: A Journey Around Russia

The Border: A Journey Around Russia

Erika Fatland, trans. from the Norwegian by Kari Dikson. Pegasus, $35 (624p) ISBN 978-1-64313-656-1

In this ambitious travelogue, journalist Fatland (Sovietistan) documents her multiyear odyssey along Russia’s 60,932-kilometer-long border with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, and North Korea. Noting that Norway is “the only one of its 14 neighbors that has not been invaded or at war with Russia in the past five hundred years,” Fatland ask “what does it mean to have the world’s largest country as your neighbor?” She answers with colorful accounts of her experiences and observations cruising the ice-crusted Northeast Passage (which makes up two-thirds of Russia’s boundary), riding horseback in Mongolia (“The Siberian wind... was unrelenting and cut through all the layers of wool until I could no longer feel my legs”), and kayaking the waterways between Norway and Russia (“The river gurgled; every now and then a big fat salmon would leap up”). She also provides a dense history of each place she visits, including sites of recent conflict, such as Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, and weaves her travel narrative with stories of people whose lives have been affected by Russia’s geopolitical ambitions. Armchair adventurers and Russian history buffs are in for a treat. Photos. (Feb.)