A haunting Russian tale about the environmental legacy of the Cold War.
Yerzhan grows up in a remote part of Kazakhstan where the Soviets tests atomic weapons. As a young boy he falls in love with the neighbour’s daughter and one evening, to impress her, he dives into a forbidden lake. The radioactive water changes Yerzhan. He will never grow into a man. While the girl he loves becomes a beautiful woman.
Why Peirene chose to publish this book:
‘Like a Grimm’s Fairy tale, this story transforms an innermost fear into an outward reality. We witness a prepubescent boy’s secret terror of not growing up into a man. We also wander in a beautiful, fierce landscape unlike any other we find in Western literature. And by the end of Yerzhan’s tale we are awe-struck by our human resilience in the face of catastrophic, man-made, follies.’ Meike Ziervogel
Translated from the Russian by Andrew Bromfield.
128pp, paperback with flaps, £12
Published February 2014