We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

The Archipelago of Another Life

On sale

6th August 2020

Price: £10.99

Select a format

Selected: Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780857057945

Disclosure: If you buy products using the retailer buttons above, we may earn a commission from the retailers you visit.

“A Siberian Heart of Darkness” Julian Barnes

On the far eastern borders of the Soviet Union, in the sunset of Stalin’s reign, soldiers are training for a war that could end all wars, for in the atomic age man has sown the seeds of his own destruction.

Among them is Pavel Gartsev, a reservist. Orphaned, scarred by the last great war and unlucky in love, he is an instant victim for the apparatchiks and ambitious careerists who thrive within the Red Army’s ranks.

Assigned to a search party composed of regulars and reservists, charged with the recapture of an escaped prisoner from a nearby gulag, Gartsev finds himself one of an unlikely quintet of cynics, sadists and heroes, embarked on a challenging manhunt through the Siberian taiga.

But the fugitive, capable, cunning and evidently at home in the depths of these vast forests, proves no easy prey. As the pursuit goes on, and the pursuers are struck by a shattering discovery, Gartsev confronts both the worst within himself and the tantalising prospect of another, totally different life.

Translated from the French by Geoffrey Strachan


Marianne Payot, L'Express
A powerful story of metaphysical adventure.
Claire Devarieux, Libération
A thrilling manhunt through the taiga.
Allan Massie, Literary Review.
As good as Stendhal or Tolstoy . . . I would rather read him than anyone else now writing
Stephanie Merritt, Observer.
One of the significant novelists of our age.
Boyd Tonkin, Independent.
Makine packs great steppes-full of history into compact, bejewelled boxes of prose.
Anthony Beevor, Daily Telegraph.
Makine's wonderful economy of image and phrase convey far more than one could think possible about the Russian soul.
James McNamara, Spectator.
Masterful . . . Makine has been justly compared with Tolstoy, but here I think the better reference is Joseph Conrad.
David Mills, Sunday Times.
Pleasingly clever stuff . . . has an ambition of romantic grandeur that feels genuinely, soulfully Russian.
Kate Mcloughlin, Times Literary Supplement.
Makine's customary clear-eyed vision and shimmering prose impart, yet again, the heavy knowledge that what is "essential" is experienced by few and obliterated by many.