Sniper by Nicolai Lilin
A Novel

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Poised to stand among the great war novels, the harrowing chronicle of a sniper during the Chechen War.

“The saboteurs? Holy Christ, what happened? What did you do to deserve that?” a fellow soldier responds when he hears that Nicolai Lilin has been assigned to an unconventional, ultra-high-risk paramilitary unit of the Russian army. Also nicknamed the “para-bats” for the black parachutes that dropped them behind enemy lines at night, Lilin and his fellow “saboteurs” soon find themselves fighting Islamic insurgents armed with American weaponry in the breakaway province of Chechnya.

In vivid, harrowing detail, Lilin relays how, under the mind-bending dangers of heavy fire, on unknown terrain, in unpredictable small villages, the only goal is survival. Under the leadership of corrupt generals profiting from the war, his unit develops a camaraderie that is their best hope for staying alive—and staying human. Ultimately, the return to the bland normality of an impersonal society at “peace” might be the hardest struggle of all.

Writing with unhindered directness and power, Lilin combines his own experiences as a sniper in Chechnya together with the stories of those he fought beside to forge an autobiographical novel unique in the literature of war. A bestseller in Europe, this novel will remain an unforgettable account of one of the ugliest conflicts of our time.

About Nicolai Lilin

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Nicolai Lilin grew up in Transnistria, which declared its independence from Russia in 1990 but has never been recognized as a state. His previous book, Siberian Education, was also a bestseller in Europe and has been made into a movie with John Malkovich. Lilin lives in Milan, where he has founded an art gallery called Kolima Contemporary Culture.
Published May 28, 2012 by W. W. Norton & Company. 417 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, War. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The book documents the conflict, scene by brutal scene, in straightforward fashion, reaching maximum grisliness when Nicolai's gonzo superior matter-of-factly cuts the skin off a captured soldier with a knife.

Apr 02 2012 | Read Full Review of Sniper: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Lilin (Siberian Education) fought in Chechnya as a sniper in the Russian army, giving this graphic story an autobiographical feel in its stark and unvarnished portrayal of men in a vicious war where no quarter is expected and none is given.

Feb 27 2012 | Read Full Review of Sniper: A Novel

The Wall Street Journal

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Too much of the novel reads like a college textbook, such as this addendum about Casement's sometime mentor Henry Morton Stanley, the explorer who succeeded "in finding in Ujiji, on November 10, 1871, the man he stupefied, according to his boastful confession, with his greeting: 'Dr. Livingston, ...

Jun 01 2012 | Read Full Review of Sniper: A Novel

Washington Independent Review of Books

In one particularly eloquent passage, Lilin tells of his own mental scars: “Where a normal person sees a landscape and contemplates the beauty of nature, I realize that, against my will, I am figuring out where the machine gun should go.” Tom Young is the author of the novels Silent Enemy and Th...

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