The Avi­a­tor

Eu­gene Vodolazkin Lisa Hay­den (Trans­la­tor)

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews - MEA­GAN LOGSDON

Oneworld Pub­li­ca­tions (MAY) Hard­cover $26.99 (368pp) 978-1-78607-271-9

Eu­gene Vodolazkin’s The Avi­a­tor is an un­abashed, panoramic view of the land­scape of hu­man con­scious­ness.

In­no­kenty Petro­vich Platonov does not know who he is. Con­fined to a bed in a mys­te­ri­ous lo­ca­tion and at­tended only by a Rus­sian Ger­man doc­tor named Geiger and by Nurse Valentina, In­no­kenty is told to write. Geiger in­sists that he re­call all the im­por­tant mem­o­ries on his own. Slowly, the de­tails of his life in the first half of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury re­turn—his ro­mance with Anas­ta­sia Voron­ina, the Great War, the Bol­she­vik Rev­o­lu­tion, his sen­tenc­ing to a la­bor camp. But when he no­tices the ex­pi­ra­tion date on a bot­tle of pills, he re­al­izes that he is now alive in the year 1999, though he has the ap­pear­ance of some­one much younger.

Through In­no­kenty’s jour­nal en­tries, the mys­tery of his fate is re­vealed. Later, Geiger and Anas­ta­sia’s grand­daugh­ter add their own jour­nal en­tries to this in­tri­cate ta­pes­try of his­tory, sci­ence, and re­li­gion. The bru­tal re­al­ity of the Bol­she­vik Rev­o­lu­tion is painted in the small frame of In­no­kenty’s life, but re­tains the same (and per­haps greater) force of wider, more grandiose nar­ra­tives chron­i­cling the upheaval.

In the vein of Dos­toyevsky, re­li­gion here is not an en­emy to be van­quished, but rather a con­so­la­tion and a means of de­ci­pher­ing the mech­a­nisms of the hu­man mind and the world—seen and un­seen. With grace and an at­trac­tive gen­tle­ness, In­no­kenty as­serts his re­li­gious be­liefs, and demonstrates his faith’s time­less­ness and en­dur­ing rel­e­vance. As a man out­side his own time, he cri­tiques many of mod­ern so­ci­ety’s norms— par­tic­u­larly the ob­ses­sion with ad­ver­tis­ing and sen­sa­tion­al­ist news—in­dict­ments that ring even more true in the years be­yond 1999.

Draped in thor­oughly Rus­sian trap­pings, The Avi­a­tor speaks to com­mon ex­pe­ri­ence while soaring into realms that en­fold the hu­man drama be­low.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.