Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier

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A Dazzling Russian travelogue from the bestselling author of Great Plains

In his astonishing new work, Ian Frazier, one of our greatest and most entertaining storytellers, trains his perceptive, generous eye on Siberia, the storied expanse of Asiatic Russia whose grim renown is but one explanation among hundreds for the region’s fascinating, enduring appeal. In Travels in Siberia, Frazier reveals Siberia’s role in history—its science, economics, and politics—with great passion and enthusiasm, ensuring that we’ll never think about it in the same way again.

With great empathy and epic sweep, Frazier tells the stories of Siberia’s most famous exiles, from the well-known—Dostoyevsky, Lenin (twice), Stalin (numerous times)—to the lesser known (like Natalie Lopukhin, banished by the empress for copying her dresses) to those who experienced unimaginable suffering in Siberian camps under the Soviet regime, forever immortalized by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in The Gulag Archipelago.

Travels in Siberia is also a unique chronicle of Russia since the end of the Soviet Union, a personal account of adventures among Russian friends and acquaintances, and, above all, a unique, captivating, totally Frazierian take on what he calls the “amazingness” of Russia—a country that, for all its tragic history, somehow still manages to be funny. Travels in Siberia will undoubtedly take its place as one of the twenty-first century’s indispensable contributions to the travel-writing genre.


About Ian Frazier

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Ian Frazier is the author of Great Plains, The Fish’s Eye, On the Rez, Family, and Travels in Siberia, as well as Coyote v. Acme, Dating Your Mom, and Lamentations of the Father, all published by FSG. A frequent contributor to The New Yorker, he lives in Montclair, New Jersey.
Published October 12, 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 541 pages
Genres: Travel, History. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Travels in Siberia

Kirkus Reviews

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Here Frazier records several visits: a summer’s trip via cantankerous automobile across the entire region, in the company of a couple of local companions;

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The New York Times

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Frazier walked through one of the barracks where inmates starved and froze in the Siberian winter: “This interior offered little to think about besides the limitless periods of suffering that had been crossed off here, and the unquiet rest these bunks had held.” As always, Frazier locates the apt...

Oct 28 2010 | Read Full Review of Travels in Siberia

The New York Times

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A Siberian infatuation leads Ian Frazier to a road trip over hard-frozen water, a visit to Stalin’s gulag and an icy dip in history.

Oct 28 2010 | Read Full Review of Travels in Siberia


And in this vast and sometimes impenetrable place where so many of modern Russia's historical personalities were formed (Lenin and Solzhenitsyn, for instance), you get a feeling for what has kept Russia always close to Europe without every really being of it.

Apr 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Travels in Siberia

AV Club

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Having tackled America’s wide-open spaces in Great Plains, Ian Frazier lights out for even emptier spaces in the farmlands and forests of Siberia.

Oct 28 2010 | Read Full Review of Travels in Siberia

Entertainment Weekly

He observes at the start of the cross-continental journey that ''travel, like much else in life, can be more fun to read about than to do.'' This holds true here: While the hand- and mind-numbing trip through geographic purgatory couldn't have been a joy, the humor and genuine awe Frazier injects...

Oct 13 2010 | Read Full Review of Travels in Siberia

Christian Science Monitor

It took bestselling author Ian Frazier (“On the Rez” and “The Great Plains”) about 16 years and countless back-and-forths to Russia to pen his latest ponderous but often evocative adventurelogue, Travels in Siberia.

Oct 18 2010 | Read Full Review of Travels in Siberia

Oregon Live

Over the next 16 years, he took half a dozen trips to western Russia and five separate visits to Siberia to study "the incomplete grandiosity of Russia."

Oct 23 2010 | Read Full Review of Travels in Siberia

MostlyFiction Book Reviews

Having evocatively captured the spirit of a Native American reservation and the American Great Plains in earlier work, Frazier set his sights on a much grander level—he decided to travel across Siberia.

Nov 10 2010 | Read Full Review of Travels in Siberia

Bookmarks Magazine

Joshua Hammer Oregonian 4 of 5 Stars "Frazier's Travels in Siberia is the biggest and best of his serious books.

Oct 18 2010 | Read Full Review of Travels in Siberia


Reaching into Asian and Russian history, Frazier enlivens the travels and travails of travelers, explorers, adventure seekers, and the politically persecuted as they make their way, either willingly or abjectly, in Siberia.

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Lonely Planet

Ultimately Frazier is left to quote poet Fyodor Tyutchev: ‘Russia cannot be understood by the mind… all you can do is believe in her.’ One can begin to believe by reading Frazier’s Travels in Siberia, which follows five of his trips to Russia’s wild east (even bumping into Lonely Planet author S...

Feb 11 2011 | Read Full Review of Travels in Siberia

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