A TIMES AND SUNDAY TIMES LITERARY NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR
SHORTLISTED FOR THE SLIGHTLY FOXED BEST FIRST BIOGRAPHY PRIZE
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‘Combining equal parts fact and fiction with literary flair, Alex Christofi has crafted in Dostoevsky in Love a stunning, genre-bending work certain to captivate fans of Dostoevsky and the Russian classics. A daring and mesmerizing twist on the art of biography.’ – Douglas Smith, award-winning author of Rasputin: The Biography
‘A wonderfully readable account of one of the great, and difficult, figures in world literature, Dostoevsky in Love brings the subject brilliantly to life. Anyone who loves his novels will be fascinated by this book.’ – Sue Prideaux, award-winning author of I Am Dynamite!
‘A wonderfully written life of Dostoevsky, in which the boundaries that conventionally separate biography and autobiography are dissolved to revelatory effect.’ – Tom Holland, author of Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind
‘Whether you know everything or nothing about Dostoevsky, whether you love or hate him (and he was extremely annoying), this is the perfect modern biography. A celebration of human complexity which fuses surprising new information about the life of the writer with a passionate love for his books. Alex Christofi has created the most charismatic and engaging portrait of a tortured, brilliant man. Dostoevsky In Love is as entertaining as it is insightful.’ – Viv Groskop, author of The Anna Karenina Fix: Life Lessons from Russian Literature
‘Alex Christofi has created a dazzling hybrid, a narrative account of Dostoevsky’s life that blends the known facts with his letters and the most autobiographical elements of his fiction. The effect is like that of colourised film footage: the Dostoevsky that shambles through these pages possesses an immediacy and a realness that’s almost uncanny.’ – Chris Power, author of Mothers
Dostoevsky’s life was marked by brilliance and brutality. Sentenced to death as a young revolutionary, he survived mock execution and Siberian exile to live through a time of seismic change in Russia, eventually being accepted into the Tsar’s inner circle. He had three great love affairs, each overshadowed by debilitating epilepsy and addiction to gambling. Somehow, amidst all this, he found time to write short stories, journalism and novels such as Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov, works now recognised as among the finest ever written.
In Dostoevsky in Love Alex Christofi weaves carefully chosen excerpts of the author’s work with the historical context to form an illuminating and accessible whole. The result is a novelistic life that immerses the reader in a grand vista of Dostoevsky’s Russia: from the Siberian prison camp to the gambling halls of Europe; from the dank prison cells of the Tsar’s fortress to the refined salons of St Petersburg. Along the way, Christofi relates the stories of the three women whose lives were so deeply intertwined with Dostoevsky’s: the consumptive widow Maria; the impetuous Polina who had visions of assassinating the Tsar; and the faithful stenographer Anna, who did so much to secure his literary legacy.
Reading between the lines of his fiction, Christofi reconstructs the memoir Dostoevsky might himself have written had life – and literary stardom – not intervened. He gives us a new portrait of the artist as never before seen: a shy but devoted lover, a friend of the people capable of great empathy, a loyal brother and friend, and a writer able to penetrate to the very depths of the human soul.
Available in hardback and audio. Currently being translated into Arabic, Dutch, Greek, Icelandic, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Russian and Turkish.
‘Unpredictable, dangerous and thrilling… It is no mean feat to boil Dostoevsky’s epic life down to 256 pulse-thumping pages. Dostoevsky in Love is beautifully crafted and realised, but it is the great love that Christofi feels for his subject that makes this such a moving book.’ – Frances Wilson, Guardian
‘A brief, fierce account of Dostoevsky’s inner and outer life. Dostoevsky in Love knits passages from the novelist’s fiction and journals with others’ testimony to form an immersive, swift-moving but carefully sourced collage… Christofi’s rapidly unrolling tapestry helps to capture the madcap, tumbling and ferocious quality of Dostoevsky’s style… He understands that wild Dostoevsky can flay the reader’s defences into ribbons, as Olympian Tolstoy cannot.’ – Boyd Tonkin, Financial Times
‘Fluently readable and warmly entertaining, graced with a nice sideline in Christofi’s own dry asides’ – Rupert Christiansen, Telegraph
‘It is an ambitious concept, and it works… I greatly enjoyed this book… Readers often fear tackling Dostoevsky’s novels, possibly because of the fuggy reverence that occludes his reputation. Alex Christofi’s welcome volume will dispel anxiety.‘ – Sara Wheeler, Wall Street Journal, (cf. ‘Best of the February book shelf‘)
‘Christofi pieces together all of these elements of Dostoevsky’s dramatic life with great skill and clarity … If you have read only smaller portions of Dostoevsky, Christofi’s account will send you off to look for more.’ – Richard Crepeau, New York Journal of Books
‘Qualities which we ascribe to [Dostoevsky’s] unforgettable fictional characters, were all to be found in “Fyodor” himself and Christofi describes them with warmth and understanding.’ – A. N. Wilson, Times Literary Supplement
‘In Dostoevsky in Love, Alex Christofi managed to pack the life and works into just two hundred understated pages.’ – Oliver Ready, Literary Review
‘What sets Christofi’s work above the many other studies of Dostoevsky is the cunning way he interpolates Fyodor’s own writing with biography… The effect is almost as if we’re hearing Fyodor’s own thoughts… for an aficionado it’s heaven.’ – Neil Mackay, The Herald
‘This feels like a cinematic thriller with one of those protagonists that you want to grasp by the shoulders and shake… The myriad identities of the man are encompassed here in a thrilling literary ride … with such creative flair that surely the great writer himself would have approved.’ – Heloise Wood, Irish Times
‘Christofi succeeds in producing a credible and sensitive portrait of Dostoevsky’s deepest feelings and inner demons from his writings.’ – Lucy Popescu, New Humanist
‘An utterly charming, lively and original work that reads like a novel itself.’ – The Globe and Mail
‘I don’t think I’ve ever read a biography quite like it… Extremely enjoyable and oddly moving… This book is full of [Dostoevsky’s] compassion and humanity, while revealing the same qualities in his worthy biographer.’ – Jane Graham, Big Issue
‘Christofi succeeds in revealing Dostoevsky’s personality in ways no ordinary biographical treatment could.’ – Publisher’s Weekly
‘This enthralling biography of the Russian novelist pushes brilliantly at the imaginative boundaries of what it is to retell the story of someone’s life.’ – The Bookseller, Editor’s Choice
‘In this probing life study, Christofi illuminates the formative power of the great novelist’s passionate love… assiduously researched… Literary scholarship laudably synthesizing insightful analysis with emotional empathy.’ – Booklist, starred review
‘Both an illuminating literary biography and an evocative snapshot of the context in which the great writer created his enduring work. Dostoevsky fans are certain to find this book insightful and captivating.‘ – Kirkus
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