The Last and the First
by Nina Berberova
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 7 Sep 2021 | Archive Date 21 Aug 2021
Pushkin Press, Pushkin Collection
On a crisp September morning, trouble comes to the Gorbatovs' farm. Having fled the ruins of the Russian Revolution, they have endured crushing labour to set up a small farm in Provence. For young Ilya Stepanovich, this is to be the future of Russian life in France; for some of his Paris-dwelling countrymen, it is a betrayal of roots, culture and the path back to the motherland.
Now, with the arrival of a letter from the capital and a figure from the family's past, their fragile stability is threatened by a plot to lure Ilya's step-brother Vasya back to Russia. In prose of masterful poise and restraint, Nina Berberova dramatises the passionate internal struggles of a generation of Russian émigrés. Translated into English for the first time by the acclaimed Marian Schwartz, The Last and the First marks a unique contribution to Russian literature.
• "[A] unique, harmonious, and brilliant book. Her language is uncommonly strong and pure; her images are magnificent for their solid and precise power... this is literature of the highest quality, the work of a genuine writer." -- Vladimir Nabokov
• "Haunting... as graceful and subtle as Chekhov." -- Anne Tyler, New Republic
• "Like Turgenev and Chekhov, of whom she is the rightful heir, Berberova... is uncannily shrewd about romance, about its bright promise, without making her characters' real satisfaction seem trite." -- New York Review of Books