Books
Hamid Ismailov

The Dead Lake

A haunting Russian tale about the environmental legacy of the Cold War.


Yerzhan grows up in a remote part of Soviet Kazakhstan where atomic weapons are tested. As a young boy he falls in love with the neighbour’s daughter and one evening, to impress her, he dives into a forbidden lake. The radioactive water changes Yerzhan. He will never grow into a man. While the girl he loves becomes a beautiful woman.


Why Peirene chose to publish this book: ‘Like a Grimm’s fairy tale, this story transforms an innermost fear into an outward reality. We witness a prepubescent boy’s secret terror of not growing up into a man. We also wander in a beautiful, fierce landscape unlike any other we find in Western literature. And by the end of Yerzhan’s tale we are awe-struck by our human resilience in the face of catastrophic, man-made, follies.’ Meike Ziervogel


‘A haunting and resonant fable.’ Boyd Tonkin, Independent


‘A tantalising mixture of magical and grim realism . . . a powerful study of alienation and environmental catastrophe.’ David Mills, Sunday Times


‘A poetic masterpiece, a novella of shocking legacies, alien beauty and blistering emotional intensity.’ Pam Norfolk, Lancashire Evening Post


‘A writer of immense poetic power.’ Kapka Kassabova, Guardian


‘A novella which draws on myth, fairy tale, poetry and traditional story-telling, it stirs them together to create an unusual parable of a modern arms race cruelly impacting on a traditional way of life.’ Elizabeth Buchan, Daily Mail


‘This superb novella . . . reads like a modern fairy-tale, full of a surreal yet mundane horror.’ Lesley McDowell, Independent on Sunday


‘Central Asian storytelling at its best.’ Marion James, Today's Zaman


LONGLISTED FOR THE INDEPENDENT FOREIGN FICTION PRIZE 2015
INDEPENDENT BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2014
GUARDIAN READERS' BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2014
107 printed pages
Original publication
2014
Publisher
Peirene Press

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