Nocturnal Butterflies of the Russian Empire by José Manuel Prieto

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Synopsis

Now in paperback, Nocturnal Butterflies of the Russian Empire was acclaimed by The Hartford Courant as "a thrilling discovery ... a reversal of the letters [of] Saul Bellow's Herzog ... [with] a Nabokovian delight in words and texts." J. is a smuggler living in Russia, making his living fencing the flotsam of communism's collapse. In Istanbul he takes a commission to trap an endangered Russian butterfly and decides to use it as an opportunity to smuggle V., his Russian lover who has no papers, back into her homeland. In the port of Odessa, she disappears, and J. continues alone to a small village on the Black Sea. Letters from V. begin to arrive, and as J. hunts the butterfly, he seeks a way to lure V. back into his life. Equal parts bittersweet love story, international intrigue, and one man's quest to write the perfect love letter, Nocturnal Butterflies of the Russian Empire, wrote The Tennessean, is "an amazing jewel of a story ... that winks with wit [and] wears its astonishing craftsmanship lightly." "An aesthetically blissful reading experience ... Nabokov's spirit, alive and kind, has touched [Prieto] with its butterfly wings." -- Aleksandar Hemon, The Village Voice Literary Supplement "...Nocturnal Butterflies is an impressive performance by a writer whose gifts are clearly abundant." -- Richard Bernstein, The New York Times "A beautiful, lavish, seedy, poetic, and magical book.... Pure pleasure for the literary mind." -- Chris Kridler, The Baltimore Sun
 

About José Manuel Prieto

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José Manuel Prieto was born in Havana in 1962. He lived in Russia for twelve years, has translated the works of Joseph Brodsky and Anna Akhmatova into Spanish, and has taught Russian history in Mexico City. He's the author of Nocturnal Butterflies of the Russian Empire and Rex. He has held teaching appointments at Cornell and Princeton, and currently teaches at Seton Hall University.
 
Published December 1, 2007 by Grove Press. 340 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure, Horror, Crime. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Nocturnal Butterflies of the Russian Empire

Kirkus Reviews

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The narrator, identified only as “J.,” is a resourceful Eastern European smuggler whose commission to hunt down and bag a rare species of Russian butterfly involves him with “V.” (for Varia—a richly suggestive moniker), a mystery woman whom he meets in Istanbul, loses in Odessa, and pursues throu...

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Publishers Weekly

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The book buzzes with beguiling lyrical profundities, but Prieto knows how to create a claustrophobic atmosphere as well, adding to J.'s list of worries: a nosy neighbor breaks into J.'s apartment and steals his letters from V., mistaking them for links in a treasonous plot.

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Book Reporter

The first letter is followed by many others, as J.

Nov 30 2000 | Read Full Review of Nocturnal Butterflies of the ...

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