Thursday, August 18, 2011

Snowdrops by A.D. Miller

Snowdrops: A NovelSnowdrops by A.D. Miller, a first time novelist, is one of the 2011 Man Booker long list contenders.  Unlike many of the current long list contenders, Snowdrops is already available in the United States.  I would be surprised if it gets to the short list.  The bookies agree because the odds for Snowdrops are 16/1.

Nick Platt is a British lawyer working in Moscow post-2000.  Nick is rudderless and unmarried at 38 and seeking excitement, which is why he ends up practicing law in Moscow. While on the subway, he encounters two young, attractive sisters, Masha and Katya, a pair of purse snatchers.  He develops a relationship with them.  Meanwhile, Nick is involved in a mega-deal with an important firm client.  Like everything in Moscow, neither the girls nor the deal are quite what they seem.  The development of both story lines uses exotic, hedonistic Moscow as a backdrop and important character.  The novel is written years after the fact as a confessional letter from Nick to his wife.

The novel's cover calls it "an intense psychological drama about the irresistible allure of sin".  The cover jacket designer was selling a different book.  While it is a well paced and well written, I would not call the novel an intense drama.  For three years, Miller was a correspondent for The Economist in Moscow.  He seems to have a good feel for Moscow.  However, other more informed reviewers have noted that the novel does nothing new with post-communist Moscow.  For an excellent  book on life in post-communist Russia, which deals with the corruption and everything else, I'd suggest Gary Shteyngart's Absurdistan.  As you may recall, Shteyngart published Super Sad True Love Story last year, which was one of my 2010 favorites.

Snowdrops was a good novel but not a great one.  If it is on your list or someone gives it to you to read, don't toss it aside.  On the other hand, if you are limited for time,  pass on it.  Try Absurdistan instead or another 2011 Booker contender.

If you want to read an excerpt of the novel, click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment