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21 November 2018

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Book Review

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The Spectre of Alexander Wolf

and An Evening with Claire, by Gaito Gazdanov

Gaito Gazdanov, a brilliant Russian author exiled to Paris in the 1920s, is ripe for re-discovery. A beautifully lyrical writer with a gift for psychological storytelling, he was acclaimed by Gorky, fought in the French resistance, and worked countless professions before being discovered by emigre literary circles.

This spring, two short novels by Gazdanov are being released by two different publishers, The Spectre of Alexander Wolf (Pushkin Press) and An Evening with Claire (The Overlook Press). Wolf is a psycho thriller in which a man who shot another in the war reads an account of the killing from the dead man's point of view, setting in motion a gripping tale of redemption. Claire, Gazdanov's first novel, is about the nostalgia of living in emigration (as was much Russian literature written in Paris at the time), but also about the Russia's collision with revolution, about first love, coming of age, and how the hopes and dreams of the early twentieth century turned sour.

— Paul E. Richardson

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Reviewed in Russian Life: May/June 2014