The Light and the Dark by Mikhail Shishkin

76%

5 Critic Reviews

"The Light and the Dark" is both more approachable and, thanks to its simplified design, more profound. The novel is composed of alternating love letters between Volodya and Sashka—its title in Russian is "Pismovnik," meaning "Letter-Book."
-WSJ online

Synopsis

The only author to win all three major Russian literary prizes (including the Russian Booker Prize), Mikhail Shishkin is one of the most acclaimed contemporary Russian literary figures. The Guardian said of Shishkin's writing: "richly textured and innovative. . . arguably Russia's greatest living novelist."

The Wall Street Journal raved that "Shishkin has created a bewitching potion of reality and fantasy, of history and fable, and of lonely need and joyful consolation. An exquisite novel... His sovereignty is over the invisible and the timeless. Mr. Shishkin traces this sad story with great beauty and finesse."

In The Light and the Dark Shishkin has created an evocative love story of two young lovers, Vladimir, a solider flighting the Boxer Rebellion, and Alexandra. Known fondly to each other as Vovka and Sashka, the two young lovers sustain their love by writing passionate letters to each other.

But as their correspondence continues, it becomes clear that the couple's separation is chronological as well as geographical--that their extraordinary romance is actually created out of, as well as kept alive by, their yearning epistolary exchange, which defies not only space but time. With this contrapuntal literary testament to the delirious, transcendent power of love, Mikhail Shishkin--the most celebrated Russian author of his generation--has created a masterpiece of modern fiction.

From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Mikhail Shishkin

See more books from this Author
AUTHOR Mikhail Shishkin was born in Moscow in 1961. Today, he is one of the most acclaimed Russian writers and the only author to have won all three major Russian literary prizes. Shishkin shares his time between Moscow, Berlin, and Switzerland.TRANSLATORAndrew Bromfield has translated into English many notable Russian authors, including Boris Akunin, Leo Tolstoy, Mikhail Bulgakov, and many more. He is a founding editor of Glas, a Russian literary journal.
 
Published January 7, 2014 by Quercus. 368 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Romance. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Light and the Dark
All: 5 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Above average
on Aug 31 2013

This novel by acclaimed Russian author Shishkin is an experimental work about two young lovers kept forever apart...Shishkin expects his readers to do some serious decoding; whether it’s worth the effort is an open question.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Boris Fishman on Jan 10 2014

Despite being a postmodernist, Shishkin likes his history: He has placed the novel’s abrasively experimental content in the hands of two lovers communicating in a literary form that’s been used for hundreds of years.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Phoebe Taplin on Mar 13 2013

Shishkin's writing is both philosophically ambitious and sensually specific, evoking the rain on a dacha roof, the smell of blossoming lime trees, or the stink of human corpses.

Read Full Review of The Light and the Dark | See more reviews from Guardian

WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Sam Sacks on Jan 10 2014

"The Light and the Dark" is both more approachable and, thanks to its simplified design, more profound. The novel is composed of alternating love letters between Volodya and Sashka—its title in Russian is "Pismovnik," meaning "Letter-Book."

Read Full Review of The Light and the Dark | See more reviews from WSJ online

Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by Michel Basilieres on Feb 17 2014

The light and the dark is an immersive reading experience that lingers in the mind long after closing the book. If at first it seems loosely plotted and full of diversions, with a direct sentimentality usually avoided in literary novels, in the end it has an authenticity born out of a voice that is both natural and lyrical.

Read Full Review of The Light and the Dark | See more reviews from Toronto Star

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