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Peter Aleshkovsky was born in 1957 and graduated some two decades later from Moscow State University. He worked for several years as an archaeologist in Central Asia and as a historical preservationist in the Russian North before turning full-time to literature in the mid-1990s.
He attained literary success with his collection of stories Stargorod, followed by his novels Seagull, Skunk: A Life (translated into English by Glas), Vladimir Chigrintsev, and The Institute of Dreams.
In 2016, Aleshkovsky's novel The Fortress (Крепость) was nominated for all three of Russia's top literary prizes, the National Bestseller, Russian Booker and Big Book Awards. On December 1, 2016, it won the Russian Booker.
Aleshkovsky's style is decidedly in the realistic tradition, but that does not stop him from investigating the mystical and miraculous in everyday life. His works are richly descriptive and evocative of the uniquely Russian worldview, while at the same time tapping into universal human emotions and experiences. He has three times been short-listed for the Russian Booker Prize, most recently for his novel Fish.
Stargorod is a mid-sized provincial city that exists only in Russian metaphorical space. It has its roots in Gogol, and Ilf and Petrov, and is a place far from Moscow, but close to Russian hearts. It is a place of mystery and normality, of provincial innocence and Black Earth wisdom. Strange, inexplicable things happen in Stargorod. So do good things. And bad things. A lot like life everywhere, one might say. Only with a heavy dose of vodka, longing and mystery.
This mesmerizing novel from one of Russia’s most important modern authors traces the life journey of a selfless Russian everywoman. In the wake of the Soviet breakup, inexorable forces drag Vera across the breadth of the Russian empire. Facing a relentless onslaught of human and social trials, she swims against the current of life, countering adversity and pain with compassion and hope, in many ways personifying Mother Russia’s torment and resilience amid the Soviet disintegration.