The Dead Lake
by Hamid Ismailov
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A haunting Russian tale about the environmental legacy of the Cold War.
Yerzhan grows up in a remote part of Kazakhstan where the Soviets test 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. Meanwhile, the girl he loves becomes a beautiful woman.
LONG-LISTED FOR THE INDEPENDENT FOREIGN FICTION PRIZE 2015
LONG-LISTED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD 2016
INDEPENDENT BOOK OF THE YEAR 2014
GUARDIAN READERS BOOK OF THE YEAR 2014
Why Peirene chose to publish this book:
Like a Brothers Grimm Fairytale, 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.
Written by Hamid Ismailov.
Translated from the Russian by Andrew Bromfield.
Coming of Age series
128pp, paperback with flaps, £12
Press & Reviews
'A haunting and resonant fable.' Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
'A tantalising mixture of magical and grim realism… a powerful study of alienation and environmental catastrophe.' David Mills, Sunday Times
'Ismailov's ability to show how lives seemingly on the periphery are at the heart of the human experience – and to leave us enraged and bewitched – confirms him as a writer of immense poetic power.' Kapka Kassabova, Guardian
'A novella which draws on myth, fairy tale, poetry and traditional story-telling, it stirs them together to create an unusual parable of a modern arms race cruelly impacting on a traditional way of life.' Elizabeth Buchan, Daily Mail
‘Hamid Ismailov has the capacity of Salman Rushdie at his best to show the grotesque realization of history on the ground.’ Literary Review
About The Book
Andrew Bromfield’s career of more than twenty years as a translator of Russian literature had its beginnings in Moscow during the perestroika period. In 1991 he was a founding editor of the journal Glas: New Russian Writing. His work since then includes translations of a wide range of Russian writers, among them two previous books by Hamid Ismailov.