Fabulous Fiction Firsts #319
The title, taken from a 1979 dissident journal published in St. Petersburg, Russian, Jennifer DuBois' debut A Partial History of Lost Causes * links two disparate characters, each searching for meaning against seemingly insurmountable odds.
Retired Soviet world chess champion Aleksandr Bezetov has turned to politics, launching a dissident presidential campaign against Vladimir Putin, risking everything he holds dear, as well as his life.
30 yr.-old Cambridge (MA) English professor Irina Ellison is on an improbable quest of her own. Her future is defined by a cruel disease inherited from her father, among whose belonging she finds copy of a letter, seemingly unanswered, that her father wrote the young Aleksandr Bezetov. Leaving everything behind, Irina travels to Russia to find Bezetov and get an answer for her father, and for herself.
Spanning two continents and the dramatic sweep of history, Partial History explores the power of memory, the depths of human courage, and the endurance of love.
- "A braiding of historical, political, and personal, each strand illuminating the other. Wonderful characters, elusive glimpses of wisdom, and a gripping story that accelerates to just the right ending. An amazing achievement." ~ Arthur Phillips
- "Thrilling, thoughtful, strange, gorgeous, political... In prose both brainy and beautiful, she follow her characters as they struggle to save each other. This is a book to get lost in." ~ Elizabeth McCracken
Readalike for fellow Iowa Writers' Workshop and Wallace Stegner Fellowship alumnus Julie Orringer; and the Orange Prize for Fiction and PEN/Faulkner Award winner Ann Patchett. Jennifer Dubois teaches at Stanford.
* = starred review