Mikhail and Margarita
Overview - A love triangle involving Mikhail Bulgakov, famed author of The Master and Margarita ; an agent of Stalin's secret police; and the bewitching Margarita has inescapable consequences for all three in 1930s Russia. A time when expression was censored by authoritarian rule, eerily mirroring the political suppression of today. Read more...
More About Mikhail and Margarita by Julie Lekstrom Himes
A love triangle involving Mikhail Bulgakov, famed author of The Master and Margarita
; an agent of Stalin's secret police; and the bewitching Margarita has inescapable consequences for all three in 1930s Russia. A time when expression was censored by authoritarian rule, eerily mirroring the political suppression of today.
It is 1933 and Mikhail Bulgakov's enviable career is on the brink of being dismantled. His friend and mentor, the poet Osip Mandelstam, has been arrested, tortured, and sent into exile. Meanwhile, a mysterious agent of the secret police has developed a growing obsession with exposing Bulgakov as an enemy of the state. To make matters worse, Bulgakov has fallen in love with the dangerously outspoken Margarita. Facing imminent arrest, infatuated with Margarita, he is inspired to write his masterpiece, The Master and Margarita
, a satirical novel that is scathingly critical of power and the powerful.
Ranging between lively readings in the homes of Moscow's literary elite to the Siberian Gulag, Mikhail and Margarita
recounts a passionate love triangle while painting a portrait of a country with a towering literary tradition confronting a dictatorship that does not tolerate dissent. Margarita is a strong, idealistic woman, who is fiercely loved by two very different men, both of whom will fail in their attempts to shield her from the machinations of a regime hungry for human sacrifice. Himes launches a rousing defense of art and the artist during a time of systematic deception and she movingly portrays the ineluctable consequences of love for one of history's most enigmatic literary figures.
Shortlisted for the Center for Fiction's 2017 First Novel Prize
Publishers Weekly Reviews
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Himess confident, carefully crafted debut novel begins in 1933 Moscow with poet Osip Mandelstam and satirist Mikhail Bulgakov sharing a quiet moment at a restaurant. Later that night, Mandelstam is arrested because of his unpublished poem about Stalin. The Writers Union selects Bulgakov to draft a letter pleading for the poets release. Bulgakov witnesses the determined efforts of Mandelstams wife to save her husband and his work. He also becomes better acquainted with Mandelstams mistress, Margarita, who eventually becomes Bulgakovs mistress and inspiration for his masterpiece, The Master and Margarita. While the Mandelstams are sent into exile, Margarita is condemned to a prison camp. Bulgakov follows her to Siberia, as does the government agent who loves her. The story blends political and literary history with fiction, alternating among moments of gritty realism, deep emotion, irony, and insight. Himes evokes a world of geniuses and hacks, dangerous men and endangered men, muses and martyrs. She adeptly details brutality and betrayal as well as creativity and the uncertainties of censorship: one moment the not-so-secret police trash Bulgakovs apartment, the next Stalin insists a commissar give Bulgakov his jacket. This novel offers two profiles in courage: a satirist struggling under a dictator who has no use for satire, and the woman Himes imagines inspired the iconic novel about the survival of love and literature under bureaucratic tyranny. (Mar.)