Deep in the unforgiving landscape a town lies under military rule, awaiting the remorseless assault of Bolsheviks along the Trans-Siberian railway. Then Samarin arrives. Appearing from the woods with a tale of escape from an Arctic prison, he says he is being chased by a cannibal. Anna, a beautiful young widow, feels something for the new arrival. Then the local shaman is found dead and suspicion and terror engulf the little town.
“[It] has the strangeness and clarity of a dream. This is historical fiction that transcends the genre - as intense as a thriller, imagined on an epic scale.”
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“James Meek’s immense and consistently impressive narrative incorporates the bizarre-but-true extremes of post-revolutionary Russia… Meek keeps the sensational elements at the service of a profound, propulsive plot, while maintaining a pleasingly sardonic edge throughout… All this plus an unflinching castration scene which presents a truly eye-watering account of severe pain in the Urals.”
“Meek’s study of slow de-humanisation and his characters’ ultimate willingness to sacrifice personal happiness and, in many cases, much more for an intangible ideal is, in terms of story-telling and intellectual suggestiveness, addictive.”
“I was gripped by James Meek’s Siberian western The People’s Act of Love… With admirable confidence Meek combines big country and big characters to create a sort of intellectual epic, which I enjoyed for its revelation of a fascinating corner of 20th-century history.”
“A strikingly unusual and ambitious novel… Violence and sensuality commingle in a tense, complex thriller with the sweep and flavour of Russia.”
James Meek was born in London in 1962 and grew up in Dundee. We Are Now Beginning Our Descent is his fourth novel. The People’s Act of Love (2005), won the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, the SAC Book of the Year Award, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and has been translated into more than twenty languages.
He has published two collections of short stories, Last Orders and The Museum Of Doubt, and contributed to the acclaimed Rebel Inc anthologies The Children Of Albion Rovers and The Rovers Return.
He has worked as a journalist since 1985, and his reporting from Iraq and about Guantanamo Bay won a number of British and international awards. In the autumn of 2001 he reported for the Guardian from Afghanistan on the war against the Taliban and the liberation of Kabul.