Lines of Fate

A Novel

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year, hailed in Europe and the United States as a new classic of modern Russian fiction in the grand tradition of Nabokov and Gogol

“With an intellectual insight rare in any novelist, Kharitonov invents and imagines a great but long-forgotten Russian writer whose destiny foretells the coming shape and being of Russian culture, the smell of its consciousness, the prison of its history. . . . [Lines of Fate] has the intense self-consciousness and cultural self-preoccupation of much of the best of Russian fiction. . . . Nabokov would have been interested in Lines of Fate.” —John Bayley, The Times Literary Supplement

A philosophical mystery novel populated with artists, criminals, and drug addicts, Lines of Fate is one of the most extraordinary novels to emerge from the last years of the Soviet Union. Written at the height of Gorbachev’s power in 1985 but not published in Russian until 1992, the novel is a profound meditation on Russia’s past and present, and a subtle examination of the crippling effects of Soviet power on the nation and on the Russian psyche.

The story follows the young researcher Anton Lizavin’s efforts to piece together a biography of the provincial writer Simeon Milashevich from the bits of candy wrappers Milashevich wrote on during the early period in Soviet history, when paper was scarce. As Lizavin becomes immersed in Milashevich’s life (and presumed death), the two begin a metaphysical conversation across time, and the book becomes a kind of postmodern detective story, painting a broad, fascinating picture of Russian society throughout the century.

Widely hailed in Europe as a new classic of modern Russian fiction, Lines of Fate is an exploration of the Russian soul in the grand tradition of Pasternak and Gogol.