ELKOST International Literary Agency

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Zwinger. 2013

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Rights sold to: Armenia - ORACLE, Italy - BOMPIANI (RCS LIBRI), Russia - CORPUS BOOKS (AST), Serbia - RUSSICA

 

Elena Kostioukovitch´s Zwinger blends together the genres of historical novel and thriller, with a lively and ironic style. In the frame of a fictional detective story, the book investigates deeply into the real mysteries of the Twentieth century history through precious documents and direct testimonies of the author.


«Just before Victor Zieman was faxed the severed head of his assistant Mireille, he was sitting in the Iroha restaurant in Frankfurt with Behr, eating tempura. It was Wednesday. All this mayhem had started on the Saturday before the Book Fair, in Victor’s Milan apartment where everything looked exactly the same as it always did.»

Seven wild days in the life of Zwinger's main character, Victor Sieman, twist together into a tight knot of quest and adventure, where the final, true goal turns out to be finding oneself. The road home and the road to oneself are a classic plot, and the Odysseus-Ulysses of 2005 is a contemporary European intellectual weighted down by knowledge, history, and the baggage of our entire centuries-old culture.

Victor Sieman works for a book publisher, specializing in books on historical archives. As he is preparing to leave for the 2005 Frankfurt Book Fair, he gets a strange phone call. Someone is offering to sell him family documents related to his grandfather's wartime past. His grandfather (modelled on the author's grandfather, Leonid Volynsky) was in Dresden in the first seven days of May 1945, leading the search for paintings from the Dresden Art Museum hidden by the Nazis – and almost paid for it with his freedom and his life.

Now Victor has only seven days to recover his family's papers and uncover details from his family's past – his mother's death, his mysterious father – while keeping up with his important assignment, and searching for the French girl Mireille, who has possibly gotten entangled in a web of secrets, intrigues, threats and cruelty. And what if Mireille is just a tool of her devious puppetmasters?

Rare documents, discoveries and revelations await our hero at every turn – a roller coaster ride through a spy novel together with a criminal thriller, wartime drama, professional journalism (with an insider's knowledge of the book business), and autobiography. The wartime events are meticulously researched and based on the author's family history, and the Moscow Olympics were experienced by the author directly. There is no hearsay in this book: everything is based either in personal memory, or in the hard memory of documents.

In the vortex of Victor's adventures, we find Ukrainian laborers in today's Europe, KGB agents from Brezhnev's time, journalists from «Voice of...» radio stations before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Russian mafia thugs busy colonizing the world.

Technical details: 1.256 000 characters, 222 000 words