A gripping, illuminating novel about recent Russian aggressions and the humans caught in the crossfire
“A taut, elegiac political thriller and a fierce swipe at Putin's efforts to make Russia great again.”
“Shevelev does a great job distilling recent history into a tragic human drama.”
One evening in 2015, journalist Pavel Vladimirovich and his wife Tatyana are at home when the news breaks that there has been a terrorist attack. Over a hundred people have been taken hostage in the Church of the Epiphany in the village of Nikolskoye near Moscow. As they watch, on the TV screen appears the face of one of the terrorists: Vadim Petrovich Seryegin, an old friend of Pavel's.
The friendship between the two men evolved through periods of conflict, war, peace, emigration, and isolation. Pavel may be one of Vadim's only friends, and when others realize this, he is asked to negotiate with Vadim.
The Church is horrifyingly silent when Pavel enters. Vadim welcomes Pavel but refuses to capitulate. As the stakes get higher and higher, Vadim's story including his connection to the wars in Chechnya and the Ukraine is revealed and it becomes clear that the first meeting between the two men was not all it first seemed to be to Pavel.
Back in the church, Pavel learns that the terrorists have one and only one demand, and that it concerns the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin.
Born in 1959, Mikhail Shevelev graduated from Moscow Institute of Foreign Languages in 1981. A translator, interpreter, and former deputy editor for The Moscow News, he currently works as a freelance journalist covering political and social issues in Russia for Radio Liberty. After 2014 he has not collaborated with Russian state and private media. He is the author of two novels and several collections of short stories, which have been translated into several languages. In 2021, he was awarded the Isaac Babel Prize.