The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov by Paul Russell
A Novel

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In his novel based on the extraordinary life of the brother of Vladimir Nabokov, Paul Russell re-creates the rich and changing world in which Sergey, his family and friends lived; from wealth and position in pre-revolutionary Russia to the halls of Cambridge University and the Parisian salon of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. But it is the honesty and vulnerability of Sergey, our young gay narrator, that hook the reader: his stuttering childhood in the shadow of his brilliant brother, his opium-fueled evenings with Cocteau, his troubled love life on the margins of the Ballets Russes and its legendary cast, and his isolation in war-torn Berlin.

A meticulously researched novel, featuring an extraordinary cast of characters (including Picasso, Diaghilev, Stravinsky, Magnus Hirschfield, and of course the master himself, Vladimir Nabokov), this is ultimately the story of a beautiful and vulnerable boy growing into an enlightened and courageous man.

About Paul Russell

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Paul Russell is the author of five novels - including The Coming Storm and Sea of Tranquillity - as well as The Gay 100, a work of non-fiction. His most recent novel was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award as well as the winner of the Ferro-Grumley Award. He is a professor at Vassar College and lives in upstate New York.
Published November 8, 2011 by Cleis Press. 385 pages
Genres: History, Gay & Lesbian, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov

Publishers Weekly

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In this meticulously researched novel, Russell (The Coming Storm) imagines the life of the younger, and now forgotten, Nabokov%E2%80%94Sergey. Always living in the shadow of his older brother, Sergey

Sep 12 2011 | Read Full Review of The Unreal Life of Sergey Nab...


The novel starts in Berlin during the decline of Nazi Germany, with most of the novel seen through flashbacks.

Jan 23 2012 | Read Full Review of The Unreal Life of Sergey Nab...

Historical Novel Society

This beautifully imagined and written novel, which feels more like a literary biography than a fiction, tells the story of Vladimir Nabokov’s younger brother, a brother who followed too soon — 11 months — after the 1899 birth of his bullying, brilliant sibling.

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Portland Book Review

The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov traces his life from childhood through adulthood in two drastically different settings – his current story, set in Nazi-controlled Berlin in 1943 and in the Russia of his youth.

Jan 12 2012 | Read Full Review of The Unreal Life of Sergey Nab...

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