Cover image for Confessions of a fallen standard-bearer
Confessions of a fallen standard-bearer
Makine, Andreï, 1957-
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Confession d'un porte-drapeau déchu. English
First English-language edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Arcade Pub. ; [Place of publication not identified] : Distributed by Time Warner Trade Pub., [2000]

Physical Description:
viii, 130 pages ; 22 cm
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From Hitler's rise to power to the Japanese surrender on the deck of the Missouri in 1945, World War II is brought into sharp focus in this dramatic book. Over a third of World War II consists of eyewitness accounts, as Sulzberger emphasizes the people involved in this historic event--the leaders, the victims, and the fighters.

Author Notes

Andrei Makine was born in Siberia in 1957. Although raised in the Soviet Union, he learned about France and came to love that country through the stories told by his French grandmother. He now lives in Paris himself, having been granted political asylum by France in 1987, and writes in French.

His grandmother figures prominently in the autobiographical novel, "Dreams of My Russian Summers," for which Makine received both the Goncourt Prize and the Medicis Prize, becoming the first author to simultaneously receive both of these prestigious French awards. In the U.S., the English translation of "Dreams of My Russian Summers" has also received recognition, including the Boston Book Review Fiction Prize and the Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year award.

Andrei Makine is also the author of "Once Upon the River Love" and "The Crime of Olga Arbelina."

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Growing up in the post-Stalin era of the Soviet Union would seem a grim existence, but if that's the only life one knows, one is ready to fight for it. The youth of this period are thought by their country to be the "pioneers," ready to forge onward to the promise of a joyous future, one worth fighting for, one earned by the toil of workers. The pioneers, however, do not see the workers they know to be the same as the notion of "workers" that the state embraces. Meanwhile, the fathers of the two pioneers featured in this story served together in World War II; one of them has lost his legs and relies on the other for everything. After the war, these families support each other through Stalin, and through the resulting bureaucracy, fear, bitter poverty, and wantonness. Makine has won prestigious literary prizes in Europe, and the translation of this work is most welcome. This moving novel tells of the longing and devastation that happen when both dreams and realities come crashing down. --Michael Spinella

Publisher's Weekly Review

"It was all so simple. Crystal clear... " begins this chronicle of the ebb in the fortunes of Marxist true believers. However, life in post-WWII Russia, where Makine's slim, impressionistic novel is set, is anything but simple or crystal clear. The story revolves around the families of two soldiers, Yakov Zinger and Pyotr Yevdokimov. Both are disabled and aging now, the butt of jokes with their endless recounting of the horrors and triumphs of the war as seen through Russian eyes. The narrator, Yevdokimov's unnamed son and a future writer, tells of his childhood in a town near Leningrad where a Young Pioneer spirit flares up out of the ashes of WWII. Loitering near the mysteriously dark water-filled "Pit," and the "Gap," an apex of the triangular courtyard where the locals reminisce and play dominoes, the narrator listens to his elders' war stories, about Byelorussia, American GIs, the German-Polish border. At first, he and his friends are bursting with enthusiasm to launch "the age of radiant years" globally, bringing Britain and "the Soviet Socialist Republic of America" into the Communist fold. But obsessed by the threat of atomic war and disturbed by murmurings about Stalin's rampages, community rage prompts first a vicious assault on the bones of German soldiers and then the definitive break-up of the domino game. The narrator says good-bye to his best friend (who he will never see again) and heads off to the Suronov military academy. This is an early work of Makine's, written before Dreams of My Russian Summers and published in France in 1992. In the genre of confessional novel, it is at once a reconstruction of a certain postwar Russian milieu and a bittersweet paean to the Communist past; above all, it's a passionate ode to political dreaming even as the perceived oppressor changes. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

As he proved in Dreams of My Russian Summer, no writer alive can reconstruct the Soviet past with the poignancy of Makine. Occasionally this works against him, as with this small but dense evocation of a village in post-World War II Russia. Makine uses his considerable skills to explore the relationship between the narrator, whose father, Pyotr, lost his legs during the war, and the narrator's best friend, whose father tenderly carts around the narrator's. As life unfolds in the little village, we get scraps of the past, all told in Makine's trademark lyric style, just dreamy and elusive enough that we can't quite touch the events. The novel doesn't really come alive until the end, when the two boys, both young Pioneers, disrupt a celebration for visiting dignitaries. Makine is very good at revealing the boys' complex feelings of disgust for the state and yet pride in their country (this is no simple anti-Soviet rant), and he is even better at a few short scenes evoking the siege of Leningrad. These passages truly cut to the bone, and they make the entire novel worth reading.DBarbara Hoffert, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.