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The Commissariat of Enlightenment

Kalfus, Ken

Published by Ecco Pr, New York, New York, U.S.A., 2003
ISBN 10: 0060501367 / ISBN 13: 9780060501365
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About the Book

Bibliographic Details

Title: The Commissariat of Enlightenment

Publisher: Ecco Pr, New York, New York, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 2003

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition: Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: First Edition.


Fine/Fine unread copy protected by Archival Brodart Cover Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 000973

About this title:

Book ratings provided by GoodReads:
3.63 avg rating
(169 ratings)


With this remarkable debut novel, Ken Kalfus gives us a stunning triumph of invention -- an epic story about the death of two Russian visionaries, the life of a radical antihero, and the birth of a new kind of power.

It begins in 1910 in Astapovo, a remote Russian railway station, where Leo Tolstoy lies dying of pneumonia. Members of the press from around the world have descended upon this sleepy hamlet to record his passing for a public suddenly ravenous for celebrity news. They have been joined by a film company whose young assistant, Nikolai Gribshin, is capturing the extraordinary scene and learning how to wield a camera as a political tool. At this historic moment he comes across two men -- the scientist, Professor Vorobev, and the revolutionist, Joseph Stalin -- who have bold, mysterious plans for the future that will inevitably involve him. With the coming of the Russian Revolution, Gribshin takes on the nom de guerre Comrade Astapov and joins the Bolshevik ministry of propaganda. In league now with Stalin and Vorobev, he plots to kill Lenin and glorify his embalmed body, promoting a vision of lifeless immortality that will dominate the minds of millions. In this brutal, absurd age, Gribshin seeks to transform himself and redirect the course of history.

Displaying the same mastery of form and intimate knowledge of Russian culture that distinguished his award- winning short stories, Ken Kalfus has produced a work of grand scope and ambition. The Commissariat of Enlightenment is a mesmerizing novel of ideas that brilliantly links the tragedy and comedy of the Russian Revolution with the global empire of images that occupies our imaginations today. Filled with intelligence, humor, and rich, vivid storytelling, it firmly establishes Ken Kalfus as one of our most daring and talented writers.

Book Description: ?Inventive, unusual, humorous, ... deeply intelligent, The Commissariat of Enlightenment beautifully illuminates the hazardous powers of image, icon, and relic.? (Andrea Barrett)

?Brilliant ... Inventive ... Gogol is probably tearing his hair out, wishing he?d dreamed this up.? (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

?Kalfus is an ironist in the best late-modern Central European style: wry, humane, precise, and beautifully smitten with ideas.? (Jonathan Franzen)

?Unforgettable...the story exhibits all the vigorous intelligence and vision readers have come to expect from Kalfus.? (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

?Glitteringly original. . . . An intricate, harrowing, and, yes, dangerous first novel that sets out to capture the dawn of the 20th century in Bolshevik Russia.? (Esquire)

?Kalfus?s book is absorbing, intelligent, witty and wry...A fable that tells the story of the 20th century.? (London Times)

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