The Commissariat of Enlightenment
Russia, 1910. Leo Tolstoy lies dying in Astapovo, a remote railway station. 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 cinematographer, Nikolai Gribshin, is capturing the extraordinary scene and learning how to wield his 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 radical, mysterious plans for the future. Soon they will accompany him on a long, cold march through an era of brutality and absurdity. 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.
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About the Author
ken kalfus is the author of a novel, The Commissariat of Enlightenment, and the short story collections Thirst, which won the Salon Book Award, and Pu-239 and Other Russian Fantasies, which was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award.
"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
"Brilliant ... Inventive ... Gogol is probably tearing his hair out, wishing he'd dreamed this up."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Inventive, unusual, humorous, ... deeply intelligent, The Commissariat of Enlightenment beautifully illuminates the hazardous powers of image, icon, and relic."--Andrea Barrett
"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)