N i c o l a i L i l i n, SIBERIAN EDUCATION. A shocking exposé of an extraordinary criminal underworld. Translated by Jonathan Hunt 447pp. Canongate. Paperback, £12.99.
On a frozen February morning, Nikolay “Kolima” Lilin, son of Lilya, the descendant of a valiant race of honest criminals, accepts the task set by the Guardian of Low River to cross the city and deliver a vital message to Finger, a fellow member of the sect. Travelling with his squire Andrey Mel, he encounters the wise old Jew Bosya, Katya the innkeeper, still grieving for her dead son, Borishka, a Japanese warrior born in Iga, land of ninjas and assassins, and other strange characters. After crossing the Bridge of the Dead, the party reaches the Railway District, home of the Black Seed. The message is delivered, but Kolima knows danger is never far away….
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