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21 November 2018

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The Raven’s Gift, by Jon Turk

Jon Turk is a scientist and adventurer who has, among many accomplishments, paddled the length of Kamchatka (recounted in a Mar/Apr 2001 Russian Life article by his late wife, Christine Seashore) and the Pacific Rim. Jon Turk is also a gifted writer and storyteller.

Turk the scientist was not inclined to mysticism. But it was thrust upon him when a series of “chance” events near Vvenka (where Kamchatka Peninsula meets the mainland) led him to be miraculously and inexplicably (in the rational world of modern science) healed by a Siberian shaman, Moolynaut.

Turk recounts his journey through nearly a decade of life, centering on repeated visits to Moolynaut, exploring the lines between this world and the next, between modern culture and Koryak culture, between himself and the world around him.

As one Russian friend tells him:

“You are a poor traveler in the Other World… You must make a long, hard journey… in the Real World. You will be hungry and tired. Then maybe, if you are lucky, you will find what you are looking for.”

It is well worth joining Turk on his journey to find what he is looking for. He is uncannily observant and perceptive, self-effacing, sensitive, and quite often very funny.

— Paul E. Richardson

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Reviewed in Russian Life: May/June 2010