ISBN 0 7206 1218 7

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Passport to Yesterday

Yuri Druzhnikov

Translated from the Russian by Thomas Moore

Book of the Year, Russian National Literary Federation

‘People are badly put together. They remember everything. Remember even things that should have been scattered to the winds long before.’

Gifted young violinist Oleg Nemets’s rural life is overturned in the storm of the Second World War and the Stalinist regime that succeeds it. Blown far away from his home and a father who never returned from the front, Oleg lands in San Francisco as a violinist in the symphony orchestra.

But years later, when the orchestra tours the Soviet Union, a series of events and clues from his past lead him back to his old town, the story of his father’s disappearance and the Russia he left behind . . .

‘Druzhnikov keeps us turning the pages with devices that include a literal cliffhanger when a boy at the seaside goes rock climbing to impress a group of girls. The artifica and the third-person narrative help to give distance, in a genre where self-indulgence and sentimentality are always a threat. The translator, Thomas Moore, has shortened the Russian title from Visa to the Day Before Yesterday, and this is not our only debt of gratitude to him: he has done a good job of conveying Druzhnikov’s deceptively simple prose with its ironies and hints of unstated emotion’ — Financial Times

‘Delicately interlaced vignettes . . . uncompromising prose, emitting flashes of cinematic brilliance.’ — Good Book Guide

‘These characters are more than alive. They are our relatives, members of our family, neighbours. It’s a strange, unusual, mysterious impression.’— Heinrich Böll

‘Not one inauthentic detail . . . Druzhnikov is working accurately and precisely like a sapper.’ — Literary Gazette, Moscow

‘Deals with the absurdity of Russian life from which the only escapes are emigration and death . . . Ferocious honesty.’ — World Literature Today

‘Slender, delicate and written in a voice that manages to combine plainess and poetry, horror and humour, in a quite extraordinary way.’ – Literary Review

‘Druzhnikhov’s appealing short novel keeps us turning the pages . . . The artifice and third person narrative help give distance in a genre where self-indulgence and sentimentality are aways a threat. The translator has done a good job conveying Druzhnikhov’s deceptively simple prose, with its unstated ironies and hints of unstated emotion.’ – Financial Times

YURI DRUZHNIKOV’s work has sold over 250,000 copies in Russia and he is considered by many European authors (including Alexander Solzhenitsyn) to be one of the most important Russian writers of modern times. His novel Angels on the Head of a Pin was named one of the ten best Russian novels of the twentieth century at the 1999 Warsaw conference. In 2001 he was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature. He teaches at the University of California at Davis.