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Sergei Lebedev was born in Moscow in 1981 and worked for seven years on geological expeditions in northern Russia and Central Asia. Lebedev is a poet, essayist and journalist. His novels have been translated into many languages and received great acclaim in the English-speaking world. The New York Review of Books has hailed Lebedev as 'the best of Russia’s younger generation of writers'
Antonina W. Bouis is one of the leading translators of Russian literature working today. She has translated over 80 works from authors such as Evgeny Yevtushenko, Mikhail Bulgakov, Andrei Sakharov, Sergei Dovlatov and Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. Bouis, previously executive director of the Soros Foundation in the former USSR, lives in New York City.
'A thriller dipped in poison ... Lebedev shares some of le Carre's fascination with secret worlds and the nature of evil' New York TimesAn extraordinary and angry Russian novel about poisons of all kinds: physical, moral and political. Professor Kalitin is a ruthless, narcissistic chemist who has developed an untraceable, extremely lethal poison called Neophyte while working in a secret city on an island in the Russian far east. When the Soviet Union collapses, he defects and is given a new identity in Germany. After an unrelated Russian is murdered with Kalitin's poison, his cover is blown and he's drawn into the German investigation of the death. Two special forces killers with a lot of Chechen blood on their hands are sent to silence him - using his own undetectable poison. Their journey to their target is full of blunders, mishaps, holdups and accidents. Praise for Sergei Lebedev:'One of Russia's most interesting young novelists takes on Putin, poison and power in this unique novel; Lebedev provides a fascinating window on modern Russia' Anne Applebaum 'Turn off your television sets and get reading. Sergei Lebedev writes not of the past, but of today' Svetlana Alexievich 'Lebedev's books dealt with history - it lay like a shadow over everything he wrote - and the fact that its presence was so powerful suggested that the conflicts and tensions inherent in it were still unresolved, still had a bearing on Russian society in obscure yet palpable ways' Karl Ove Knausgaard
Falling with exquisite yet hammer-hard precision this beautifully written political spy thriller from a Russian author feels like a unique read. When the Soviet Union collapses a chemist who developed an untraceable lethal poison defects. After a murder occurs using the poison, two men are sent to silence Professor Kalitin. An intriguing start sets this novel up and the plot continues to bubble and scheme away. I almost felt as though I should be swearing an official secrets act in order to read Untraceable. Sergei Lebedev has created the most fascinating and readable novel. His words echoed though me, huge in scope yet intimate in detail and emotion. The translation by Antonina W Bouis is fabulous, sometimes translated novels make you feel at home, this quite rightly ensured that I realised just how much I don’t know. At times I was left reeling, desperate to read more, to understand more and the ending hit with a shockwave. Deservedly a LoveReading Star Book Untraceable is a beautiful, disturbing and penetrating read. The LoveReading LitFest invited Sergei to the festival to talk about Untraceable. You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see Sergei in conversation with Paul Blezard from a writer’s retreat in Switzerland, about his extraordinary fictional analysis of Russia's use of lethal poison. Untraceable is inspired by the Salisbury poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Check out the preview of the event here
An idyllic childhood takes a sinister turn. Rumors of a serial killer haunt the neighborhood, families pack up and leave town without a word of warning, and the country begins to unravel. Policemen stand by as protesters overtake the streets, knowing that the once awe-inspiring symbols of power they wear on their helmets have become devoid of meaning. Lebedev depicts a vast empire coming apart at the seams, transforming a very public moment into something tender and personal, and writes with stunning beauty and shattering insight about childhood and the growing consciousness of a boy in the world.
This masterful novel represents an epic literary attempt to examine a very troubled Russia.In one of the first twenty-first century Russian novels to probe the legacy of the Soviet prison-camp system, a young man travels to the vast wastelands of the Far North to uncover the truth about a shadowy neighbor who saved his life and whom he knows only as Grandfather II. What he finds, among the forgotten mines and decrepit barracks of former gulags, is a world relegated to oblivion, where it is easier to ignore both the victims and the executioners than to come to terms with a terrible past.This disturbing tale evokes the great and ruined beauty of a land where man and machine worked in tandem with nature to destroy millions of lives during the Soviet century. Emerging from today's Russia, where the ills of the past are being forcefully erased from public memory, this masterful novel represents an epic literary attempt to rescue history from the brink of oblivion.