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It is the summer of 1945. Germany has been defeated, Hitler has disappeared, and tensions are mounting ever higher along the Russian-Chinese border...where the threat of Japanese invasion haunts.
For Petka, no life could be more thrilling and glorious than marching into battle alongside the Red Army. But he is only twelve, the bastard child of a fractured family, trapped in a village too tiny for his bursting spirit. So he must make his own adventure wherever he can find it. And if that means passing off a wolf cub as a puppy under the nose of his ferocious grandma, stealing bootleg alcohol for the bivouacked troops he worships, smuggling himself in a barrel across the border and into the line of fire, fighting for his life when his own aimless peers turn inexplicably vicious, or befriending an enigmatic Japanese POW who transcends Petka’s provincial world, then so be it.
By turns comical, harrowing, poignant, and exhilarating, Petka reveals the soul of a boy who knows only to take from life all that he can—not merely what his circumstances allow.
Nominated for the 2014 Rossica Translation Prize.
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Andrei Gelasimov was born in Irkutsk, one of the largest cities in Siberia, in 1965. He went on to study foreign languages at the Yakutsk State University, as well as directing at the Moscow Theater Institute. In 2001 he came to popular literary acclaim in Russia when his story “A Tender Age,” which he originally published on the Internet, was included in an issue of the journal Oktyabr, and his novella and collection of short stories, Fox Mulder Looks Like a Pig,was released. Gods of the Steppe is his third novel to be published in English, following Thirst, for which Booklist praised “Gelasimov’s spare prose and pointed dialogue,” and The Lying Year, which was developed into a motion picture. Gelasimov’s work has garnered the Apollon-Grigorev prize and a Belkin prize nomination. Gods of the Steppe won the 2009 National Bestseller award in Russia.
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