Holiday Savings at BAM!
 
(0)
 

In The Media

California Book Awards June 06, 2013
   



Overview - FINALIST FOR THE PEN/HEMINGWAY PRIZE FOR DEBUT FICTION
NAMED BY THE NATIONAL BOOK FOUNDATION AS A 5 UNDER 35 AUTHOR - WINNER OF THE CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARD GOLD MEDAL FOR FIRST FICTION - WINNER OF THE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION - NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY "O: THE OPRAH MAGAZINE"
In Jennifer duBois's mesmerizing and exquisitely rendered debut novel, a long-lost letter links two disparate characters, each searching for meaning against seemingly insurmountable odds.
  Read more...

 

  • $0
Sorry: This item is not currently available.

FREE Shipping for Club Members
Not a member? Join Today!
 
 
New & Used Marketplace 57 copies from $2.99
 
Download

This item is available only to U.S. billing addresses.
 
 
 
 

More About
 
 
 
Overview
FINALIST FOR THE PEN/HEMINGWAY PRIZE FOR DEBUT FICTION
NAMED BY THE NATIONAL BOOK FOUNDATION AS A 5 UNDER 35 AUTHOR - WINNER OF THE CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARD GOLD MEDAL FOR FIRST FICTION - WINNER OF THE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION - NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY "O: THE OPRAH MAGAZINE"
In Jennifer duBois's mesmerizing and exquisitely rendered debut novel, a long-lost letter links two disparate characters, each searching for meaning against seemingly insurmountable odds. With uncommon perception and wit, duBois explores the power of memory, the depths of human courage, and the endurance of love.
"Astonishingly beautiful and brainy . . . a] stunning novel."--"O: The Oprah Magazine"
"I can't remember reading another novel--at least not recently--that's both incredibly intelligent and also emotionally engaging."--Nancy Pearl, NPR
In St. Petersburg, Russia, world chess champion Aleksandr Bezetov begins a quixotic quest: He launches a dissident presidential campaign against Vladimir Putin. He knows he will not win--and that he is risking his life in the process--but a deeper conviction propels him forward.
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, thirty-year-old English lecturer Irina Ellison struggles for a sense of purpose. Irina is certain she has inherited Huntington's disease--the same cruel illness that ended her father's life. When Irina finds an old, photocopied letter her father wrote to the young Aleksandr Bezetov, she makes a fateful decision. Her father asked the chess prodigy a profound question--How does one proceed in a lost cause?--but never received an adequate reply. Leaving everything behind, Irina travels to Russia to find Bezetov and get an answer for her father, and for herself.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
Salon - "BookPage"
Praise for "A Partial History of Lost Causes"
" "
"A thrilling debut . . . Jennifer] DuBois writes with haunting richness and fierce intelligence. . . . Full of bravado, insight, and clarity."--"Elle"
" "
"DuBois is precise and unsentimental. . . . She moves with a magician's control between points of view, continents, histories, and sympathies."--"The New Yorker"
"A real page-turner . . . a psychological thriller of great nuance and complexity.""--The Dallas Morning News"
"Terrific . . . In urgent fashion, duBois deftly evokes Russia's political and social metamorphosis over the past thirty years through the prism of this particular and moving relationship."--"Publishers Weekly" (starred review)
"Hilarious and heartbreaking and a triumph of the imagination."--Gary Shteyngart

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781400069774
  • ISBN-10: 1400069777
  • Publish Date: March 2012


Related Categories

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2011-11-07
  • Reviewer: Staff

In Dubois’s terrific debut, Aleksandr Bezetov arrives in Leningrad to study chess on the day of Stalin’s centenary celebration in 1979 and meets two men who publish a dissident journal called A Partial History of Lost Causes. In Cambridge, Mass. in 2006, 30-year-old university lecturer Irina Ellison lives with a diagnosis of Huntington’s disease, a hereditary degenerative illness that often leads to early death. After her Russophile father dies, Irina finds an unanswered letter he wrote after learning of his illness to Aleksandr asking how the chess champion is ever able to continue a game he knows he won’t win. On impulse, Jennifer leaves her lover and her Cambridge life and goes to Russia to track down the retired chess champion and have him answer the question in person, only to find out that Aleksandr has taken up the biggest lost cause of all: running against Vladimir Putin for president of Russia. Moving between Aleksandr’s past and Irina’s present journey of self-discovery, the two stories eventually come together as Irina joins Aleksandr’s quixotic political campaign and becomes swept up in his dangerous attempt to expose Putin. In time, these unlikeliest of allies form a touching bond based on Irina’s diagnosis and the constant threats against Aleksandr’s life. In urgent fashion, Dubois deftly evokes Russia’s political and social metamorphosis over the past 30 years through the prism of this particular and moving relationship. (March)

 
BookPage Reviews

Seeking the answers to love, life and chess

What compels us to cling to hope in hopeless circumstances? That’s the intriguing question first-time novelist Jennifer duBois explores in a story that evocatively connects two characters whose biographies give little hint of the way their destinies ultimately merge.

The novel takes its title from the name of a hand-produced dissident journal teenager Aleksander Bezetov distributes furtively in the city still known as Leningrad, where he arrives in 1979 as an aspiring chess prodigy. After one of his comrades is killed by Communist operatives, he makes his peace with the regime and begins a meteoric rise to the pinnacle of the chess world, with all the perquisites and soul-destroying compromises that choice entails.

A quarter-century later Irina Ellison, a young woman with a Ph.D. in comparative literature, abandons her life in Boston and flees to Russia. She’s been diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, the same affliction that slowly and painfully killed her father, with whom she had watched many of Aleksander’s matches. Before she begins to feel its effects, Irina seeks out Aleksander to answer a question about facing loss gracefully that her father once asked him in an unanswered letter.

Irina and Aleksander finally encounter each other in 2006, in the midst of Aleksander’s quixotic electoral campaign to unseat Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. Irina’s grim persistence eventually leads her to Aleksander’s door, where the two are drawn together by their shared sense of desperation.

In a novel that conjures the Russian literary tradition, duBois weaves an intricate web of relationships among characters forced to confront difficult existential choices. Irina, with her “inability to invest in lost causes,” struggles with the private suffering brought on by the knowledge that her life will be truncated by disease, while Aleksander fights against what seems an equally inevitable public destiny.

Though at times she overreaches for an arresting metaphor, duBois does an admirable job of portraying the death rattle of Communism and the birth of a nominally democratic but persistently corrupt society. She vividly captures the spirit of St. Petersburg and Moscow, not least the cloud of paranoia that hovers over both the old and new Russian worlds. A Partial History of Lost Causes is a deeply thoughtful novel, a pensive, multilayered look at a culture in transition and the lives of the two complex, memorable characters at its core.

 
BAM Customer Reviews

DISCUSSION