Everyone needs a novel close by for the holidays. It’s our respite in the event of family hostilities, sensory overload, caloric excess, or the horror of being away from work.
Of course, a religious holiday doesn’t mean a mental holiday. We need a novel that’s soaked through with good choices, from theme to setting to event to dialog to character to drama to every…last…word. We want a book in which all these choices build orchestrally to an "away" experience so intense that we look up from our novel to discover…we were reading a novel.
My recommendation is Stalin’s Ghost by Martin Cruz Smith. It is a catalog of brilliantly successful choices. It’s thoroughly excursive, if that’s a word. You travel well and far, well protected from the perils of Christmas, Hanuka (still lingering in its effects), Kwanzaa, and time away from work.
You can buy Stalin’s Ghost from Amazon.com here.
Excellent – I’ve enjoyed all the Renko books I’ve read. I’m sure much of my sense of Russian-ness comes more from those books, than say, from my own family (now several generations removed from life in the shtetl).