A Hero's Daughter by Andrei Makine

By Andrei Makine

In international struggle II Ivan Demidov received the purple Army's maximum award for bravery, that of Hero of the Soviet Union. however the a long time following the conflict have introduced him a lifetime of hassle, alleviated purely by means of his delight during this success and the modest privileges granted to warfare veterans. His daughter, Olya, however, born in 1961 and educated as a linguist, takes up a submit as an interpreter at Moscow's foreign enterprise heart with entry to a metropolitan way of life past the goals of her mom and dad. the single seize is that her activity includes servicing overseas businessmen round the clock and passing on information regarding them to the KGB. this can be a lovely drama of disillusionment and pressure among the 2 generations: the person who grew up lower than Stalin and observed its religion in him collapse and the person who grew up below Brezhnev, fixated at the glamour of the West and its fabric items. Makine's bright and real evocation of lifestyle in post-war Soviet Russia suits in its depth the images of nineteenth-century Russian lifestyles provided through Dostoevsky and Tolstoy.

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Andreas has a leonine forehead, heavy overhanging brows, deep lines around his mouth, a large nose, the jowls of Field Marshal Hindenburg, and bulging yellowy-gray eyes that are at once watery and inflamed. These eyes contain kindness and exhaustion, indomitable rage and terrible anguish, deep thought and crazed fury. The inhabitants of Tsakhkadzor feel sorry for Andreas. The sly and thrifty Karapet-aga,[7] who once lived in Syria and who gave up a tavern in Aleppo for a restaurant-cum-bar in Tsakhkadzor, is always ready to give him something to eat.

What am I to do? I rush into a third courtyard—and am filled with despair. I see a network of little staircases and balconies, an old man sipping coffee from a little cup, a group of women who break off their conversation to look at me. I smile confusedly and turn back. Everywhere I look, there is life! What am I to do? There is nothing poetic about my thoughts now. Should I try to find Martirosyan as quickly as possible? But what help would that be? I can’t turn up in his house and, ignoring his attempts to introduce me to his wife and family, ignoring everyone’s questions, make a dash for the toilet.

Now Andreas lives alone in a small stone house. He has two ewes who feel nothing but trustful love for him, seeing nothing the least strange about his madness, his singing during the night, and his fits of fury and despair. Whenever anyone mentions Andranik Pasha, Andreas weeps. Probably, no one since Shakespeare’s time could better have played the role of mad old Lear. Of average height, broad-shouldered, and quite stout, probably suffering from edema, wearing a warm, rather ragged peasant jacket, with a sheepskin hat on his head and a large, gnarled staff in his hand, Andreas wanders about the steep little streets of Tsakhkadzor.

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