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In Siberia

by

In Siberia Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Chapter One

Hauntings

The ice-fields are crossed for ever by a man in chains. In the farther distance, perhaps, a herd of reindeer drifts, or a hunter makes a shadow on the snow. But that is all. Siberia: it fills one twelfth of the land-mass of the whole Earth, yet this is all it leaves for certain in the mind. A bleak beauty, and an indelible fear.

The emptiness becomes obsessive. Until a few years ago only five towns, scattered along the Trans-Siberian Railway, were open to foreigners under supervision, while Siberia itself receded into rumour. Even now the white spaces induce fantasies and apprehension. There is a place where white cranes dance on the permafrost, where a great city floats lost among the ice-floes, where mammoths sleep under glaciers. And there are places (you could fear) where the terrors of the Gulag secretly continue, and the rocket silos are rebuilding....

Over the Urals the train-wheels putter pathetically, like old men running out of breath. The mountains look too shallow to form a frontier, let alone the divide between Europe and Asia: only a faint upheaval of pine-darkened slopes.

Beyond my window the palisades of conifer and birch part to disclose sleepy villages and little towns by weed-smeared pools. The summer railway banks are glazed with flowers. Beyond them the clearings shut on and off like lantern slides: wooden cottages and vegetable patches boxed in picket fences, and cattle asleep in the grass.

Dusk arrives suddenly, as if this were the frontier also between light and darkness. Siberia is only a few miles away. It sets up a tingle of alarm. I am sliding out of European Russia into somewhere which seems less a country than aregion in people's minds, and even at this last moment, everything ahead--the violences of geography and time--feels a little thinned, too cold or vast to be precisely real. It impends through the darkness as the ultimate, unearthly Abroad. The place from which you will not return.The Azeri merchant who shares my carriage never looks out of the window. Siberia is dull, he says, and poor. He trades clothes between Moscow and Omsk, and taps continually on a pocket calculator. 'I wouldn't stay long out there, ' he says. 'Everything's falling to bits. I'd try China, if I were you. China's the coming place.' He is big and hirsute, thirty-something, and going to seed. After dozing, he checks his face in his shaving-mirror and groans, as if he had expected someone else.

Suddenly in our window there springs up the ghostly obelisk raised by Czar Alexander I nearly two centuries ago. It stands on a low bank, whitened by the glimmer of our train. Here, geographically, Siberia begins. On its near side the plinth proclaims 'Europe', on its far side 'Asia'. It flickers past us, and the darkness comes down again. And nothing, of course, changes. Because the boundary between Europe and Asia is only an imagined one. Physically the continents are undivided. Ancient geographers in the West (itself an artificial concept)perhaps decided one day that here was Europe--the known--and over there was somewhere else, Asia.

So I wait for the change which I know will not happen. In the dark the railway cuttings seem to plunge deeper, and the trees to rush up more vertiginously above them. A few suffocated stars appear. Occasionally the land breaks into valleys slung with faint lights, and once, from the restaurant-car, I see a horizon blanched with the refracted glow of an invisible city.For this is Russia's Elsewhere. Long before Communism located the future in an urban paradise, Siberia was a rural waste into which were cast the bacilli infecting the state body: the criminal, the sectarian, the politically dissident. Yet paradoxically, over the centuries, it was seen as a haven of primitive innocence and salvation, and peasants located their Belovodye here, their Promised Land. So sometimes the censure of Siberian savagery would be reversed into applause for its freedom, and its inhabitants praised as pioneering supermen, uncontaminated by the rot in the bones of Europe. Now, as Moscow succumbs to the contagion of the West, Siberia becomes a pole of purity and authentic 'Russianness'. I heard rumours that it might secede from western Russia altogether, or fracture into independent provinces. What, I wondered, had replaced its shattered Communist faith?

Synopsis:

Traveling alone, the author explored the Siberian territory, talking to everyone he met about the state of that country. What he found was a land whose natural resources have been savagely exploited for decades, a terrain tainted by nuclear waste, but filled with citizens who demonstrated hospitality despite their poverty.

Synopsis:

Traveling alone, the author explored the Siberian territory, talking to everyone he met about the state of that country. What he found was a land whose natural resources have been savagely exploited for decades, a terrain tainted by nuclear waste, but filled with citizens who demonstrated hospitality despite their poverty.

Synopsis:

As mysterious as its beautiful, as forbidding as it is populated with warm-hearted people, Syberia is a land few Westerners know, and even fewer will ever visit. Traveling alone, by train, boat, car, and on foot, Colin Thubron traversed this vast territory, talking to everyone he encountered about the state of the beauty, whose natural resources have been savagely exploited for decades; a terrain tainted by nuclear waste but filled with citizens who both welcomed him and fed him—despite their own tragic poverty. From Mongoloia to the Artic Circle, from Rasputin's village in the west through tundra, taiga, mountains, lakes, rivers, and finally to a derelict Jewish community in the country's far eastern reaches, Colin Thubron penetrates a little-understood part of the world in a way that no writer ever has.

About the Author

An award-winning novelist and travel writer, Colin Thubron's books include Among the Russians, In Siberia, and the New York Timesbestseller Shadow of the Silk Road. He lives in London.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060953737
Author:
Thubron, Colin
Publisher:
Harper Perennial
Author:
by Colin Thubron
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
Description and travel
Subject:
Thubron, Colin
Subject:
Former Soviet republics
Subject:
Russia
Subject:
Siberia
Subject:
Europe - Russia & the Former Soviet Union
Subject:
Europe - Former Soviet Republics
Subject:
General Travel
Subject:
Journeys
Subject:
Siberia (Russia) Description and travel.
Subject:
Thubron, Colin - Journeys -
Subject:
Travel-Russia
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st Perennial ed.
Edition Description:
Trade PB
Series Volume:
86-0047
Publication Date:
20001226
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 0.88 in 13.12 oz

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Russia » General Russian History
History and Social Science » Russia » Post Soviet Republics
History and Social Science » Russia » Siberia
Travel » Russia and Independent States » Russia
Travel » Travel Writing » Asia
Travel » Travel Writing » Europe
Travel » Travel Writing » General

In Siberia New Trade Paper
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Product details 304 pages Harper Perennial - English 9780060953737 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Traveling alone, the author explored the Siberian territory, talking to everyone he met about the state of that country. What he found was a land whose natural resources have been savagely exploited for decades, a terrain tainted by nuclear waste, but filled with citizens who demonstrated hospitality despite their poverty.
"Synopsis" by , Traveling alone, the author explored the Siberian territory, talking to everyone he met about the state of that country. What he found was a land whose natural resources have been savagely exploited for decades, a terrain tainted by nuclear waste, but filled with citizens who demonstrated hospitality despite their poverty.

"Synopsis" by , As mysterious as its beautiful, as forbidding as it is populated with warm-hearted people, Syberia is a land few Westerners know, and even fewer will ever visit. Traveling alone, by train, boat, car, and on foot, Colin Thubron traversed this vast territory, talking to everyone he encountered about the state of the beauty, whose natural resources have been savagely exploited for decades; a terrain tainted by nuclear waste but filled with citizens who both welcomed him and fed him—despite their own tragic poverty. From Mongoloia to the Artic Circle, from Rasputin's village in the west through tundra, taiga, mountains, lakes, rivers, and finally to a derelict Jewish community in the country's far eastern reaches, Colin Thubron penetrates a little-understood part of the world in a way that no writer ever has.
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