Recalling the open-hearted honesty of Ben Lerner and the whisky-sour satire of Bret Easton Ellis, Back to Moscow is a dazzlingly original, witty and ultimately haunting debut.
The early 2000s, and Moscow is storming into the century as money and an assertive political elite rise to power. Months after his arrival, expat student Martin hasn't written a word of his thesis on the heroines of the Russian classics because the cheap, bright lure of nightclubs, vodka and real women is predictably hard to resist. He finds himself torn between opposing sensibilities: on the one hand, the limpid appeal of Lena, and her insistence on the Mysterious Russian Soul; on the other, that of his research supervisor Lyudmila Aleksandrovna - diligent, serious, caught in the shadow of a soviet past. Can the fates of Anna Karenina, Pushkin's Tatyana or Chekhov's three sisters help him understand the women in his life?
Martin's restless explorations turn into a half-grasped search for meaning as Moscow leads him to dark and unexpected places tinged by Russia's ever-present sense of impending tragedy.