The People's Act of Love (英語) ペーパーバック – 2005/7/7
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内線で引き裂かれた国の外側に、謎めいたバラショフが率いる小さなキリスト教派が暮らしている。アンナ・ペトロブナは美しく気ぜわしい写真家で、残虐な風景のさ中で、幼い息子を女手ひとつで育てている。近隣にはチェコの兵士が駐屯していた。みな家に帰りたがっていたが、負けている側についていた。兵士のひとりひとりが、はかない共存の中に生き、不安と苦しみが彼らを覆っていた。この孤立した地域にたどり着いたのが、ロシア最北の捕虜収容所からの脱走者、サマリンである。彼はただちに捕らえられると、チェコの誇大妄想者であるマチュラ大佐のもとへ連行される。だがよそ者の姿は人々の目をひき、アンナ・ペトロブナも例外ではなかった。やがて地元のシャーマンが遺体で発見されると、村は疑惑と恐怖に包まれる。20カ国で出版予定の『The People's Act of Love』は、まさに素晴らしいストーリーテリングであり、有望な文学の登場を約束している。 --このテキストは、CD版に関連付けられています。
Siberia 1919. In the outer reaches of a country recently torn apart by civil war live a small Christian sect and its enigmatic leader, Balashov. Stationed nearby is a regiment of Czech soldiers, desperate to get home but on the losing side if the recent conflict. Uncertainty prevails. Into this isolated community trudges Samarin, an escapee from Russia's northernmost gulag. Immediately apprehended, he is brought before Captain Matula, the regiment's megalomaniac commander. But the stranger's arrival gas also caught the attention of others, including Anna, a beautiful young war widow. And when the local Shaman lies dead, suspicion and terror engulf the little town...James Meek's novel is a breathtaking contemporary fable staged against one if the most remote landscapes on earth. The remarkable cast of characters and Meek's uncanny ability to evoke the period bring to mind the work of the great Russian masters. The People's Act of Love is a magnificent piece of storytelling, an unforgettable novel and a deeply satisfying read.商品の説明をすべて表示する
Through the eyes of several people present in a small town in the wilderness of Siberia, we see all the chaos and cynicism as well as dreams and aspirations of the time reflected. The characters, among which we find a mysterious cannibal, a Cavalry officer who becomes a member of a bizarre sect, a Jewish officer in the Czechoslovak Legion, and a woman with a gift for photography, may not be immediately likable, but they are certain to make a strong impression on the reader. Meek weaves the story of the meeting and eventual clash of all these characters together very well, making excellent use of evocative flashbacks, letters and monologues to create narrative tension, while maintaining at the same time a high pace of action.
The storyline is generally violent and cynical, as fits those times, and the brutal backdrop of Siberia in winter during times of shortage only serves to heighten the tension. After the various characters find themselves in Siberia, the Czechslovak Legion's presence in the area, an interesting yet historically real adventure tale, becomes the pivot around which all the events unfold. The bitterness of the cold as well as the people and their ideals portrays this crossing in Russia's history very well, and Meek has done a good job keeping the storyline actually exciting with constant surprises and plot twists. Although some of the praise on the cover must surely be taken as hyperbole, this is certainly an intriguing and riveting book, and well worth picking up to read on a lonely winter night.
NB: My review applies to the Dutch translation of this book only, as I have not read the English original. I see no reason to assume there are material differences between the two though.
James Meek has written a marvelous story-telling in this novel. It portrays the Russian revolution in such detail you would think you are in the world of 1917. So many characters woven into effortless story lines, so that the story grabs our attention. The characters are revealed in a central figure, and we are able at last to understand the drama and the truth. James Meek attended Edinburgh University and as a journalist for the "Guardian" and "Observer" reported from Russia for ten years. He has been able to show us the horrific sights and scenes of Siberia: cruelty, murder and cannibalism. And, yet the sun shining on the snow, the love of a man and a woman; the everyday life of those who live the best they can.
Samarin, one of the main characters shows up in tiny, poor Yazyk, a Siberian community. His story is that of a political prisoner, a run-away from a horrible place in the Arctic. He has escaped with "Mohican" a guard at this prison. Mohican took Samarin with him, it seems, to eat his flesh. Samarin's story is slowly unraveled, but not before we meet the other characters. An extreme Christian sect that castrates its members so they can be called angels. A group of Czechoslovakian legions, trying to leave this God-forbidden place, led by Lieutenant Mutz. Mutz loves the earth and a woman, Anna Petrovna. Anna is the wife of the leader of the Christian sect. She is also a woman who loves men and sex, photography and her son.
All these characters and more who are puzzled about many events. They learn as we do, when the puzzle begins to fit; the meaning of the extremes of the political, the spiritual and the humanity. There are heroes and there is goodness. This is a particularly spectacular book, written by a particularly special writer.
Highly recommended. prisrob
What kind of world does Meek create, then? Most of the novel is set in a small town in the Siberian outback, as the Russian Revolution sweeps from Petrograd in the west to Vladivostok in the east. The revolution hasn't quite made it to this small town, which sits in a kind of political and spiritual limbo: the Czech Legion (having been contracted by the Tsar) is the presiding authority, even though at the moment the Tsar is gone; meanwhile the town's residents, who are involved in a secret mystical sect that demands castration from the men, keep their distance from the political events of the day. Disrupting this fragile equilibrium is the arrival of an escaped convict: the spell-binding and brilliant Samarin, a man who is equal parts fantasist, visionary, revolutionary, and murderer. With Samarin, Meek has created a gripping, indelible figure, one who magnetizes the whole of the novel: we shudder as we follow the trajectory of his mind, and yet we can't help but feel shivers of excitement, too, as he takes us where no sane person would ever hope to go.
In all, a beautifully-written, beautifully-troubling novel.