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Ken Kalfus

The Commissariat of Enlightenment

Ken Kalfus The Commissariat Of Enlightenment
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$6.99 Pre-owned
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Main description:

Russia, 1910. Leo Tolstoy lies dying in Astapovo, a remote railway station. Members of the press from around the world have descended upon this sleepy hamlet to record his passing for a public suddenly ravenous for celebrity news. They have been joined by a film company whose cinematographer, Nikolai Gribshin, is capturing the extraordinary scene and learning how to wield his camera as a political tool. At this historic moment he comes across two men -- the scientist, Professor Vorobev, and the revolutionist, Joseph Stalin -- who have radical, mysterious plans for the future. Soon they will accompany him on a long, cold march through an era of brutality and absurdity. The Commissariat of Enlightenment is a mesmerizing novel of ideas that brilliantly links the tragedy and comedy of the Russian Revolution with the global empire of images that occupies our imaginations today.

Review quote:

“Brilliant ... Inventive ... Gogol is probably tearing his hair out, wishing he’d dreamed this up.”

Review quote:

“Glitteringly original. . . . An intricate, harrowing, and, yes, dangerous first novel that sets out to capture the dawn of the 20th century in Bolshevik Russia.”

Review quote:

“Inventive, unusual, humorous, ... deeply intelligent, The Commissariat of Enlightenment beautifully illuminates the hazardous powers of image, icon, and relic.”

Review quote:

“Kalfus is an ironist in the best late-modern Central European style: wry, humane, precise, and beautifully smitten with ideas.”

Review quote:

“Kalfus’s book is absorbing, intelligent, witty and wry...A fable that tells the story of the 20th century.”

Review quote:

“Unforgettable...the story exhibits all the vigorous intelligence and vision readers have come to expect from Kalfus.”


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