Among the Russians is a marvellous account of a solitary journey by car from St Petersburg and the Baltic States south to Georgia and Armenia. Colin Thubron grapples with the complexities of Russian identity and relays his journey in a characteristically lyrical style. This is an enthralling and revealing tale of the habits and idiosyncrasies of a fascinating nation as well as a thought-provoking commentary on Russian life.
Reviewed by Maggie Fergusson in Slightly Foxed Issue 58.
We meet on an autumn morning, sun streaming through the French windows of Thubron’s elegant Holland Park drawing-room. We sit in deep, white sofas, eating biscuits. Surely Thubron, now 79, can’t want to leave all this behind and subject himself to the challenges and privations of another three-month journey? Yes, he says. He does. He is preparing himself to travel down the Amur, the ninth longest river in the world. It runs between Russia and China, so he is brushing up the Russian and Mandarin he learned for Among the Russians (1983) and Behind the Wall (1987). He is also playing regular games of tennis with his Russian tutor, to keep fit – ‘although I’ve been rather lucky on that score: I’ve been fit all my life’.
Extract from Slightly Foxed Issue 58, Summer 2018
In 1992, I started working for a strange but beguiling organization. The Royal Society of Literature was, in those days, housed in a huge, dilapidated mansion in Bayswater, and it was there that its...Read more