A Partial History of Lost Causes: A Novel
Her father asked the chess prodigy a profound question—How does one proceed in a lost cause? Leaving everything behind, Irina travels to Russia to find Bezetov and get an answer for her father, and for herself. From the publisher. She completed a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University. From the author's website.
Book Reviews A real page-turner A psychological thriller of great nuance and complexity. Dallas Morning News DuBois is precise and unsentimental The New Yorker [An] astonishingly beautiful and brainy debut novel Her prose is both apt and strikingly original So how do we proceed when defeat is inevitable?
The stunning novel suggests an answer: We just do. Perseverance, it seems, is its own kind of victory. O, The Oprah Magazine Gorgeous DuBois writes with haunting richness and fierce intelligence.
She has an equal grasp of politics and history, the emotional nuances of her complex characters, and the intricacies of chess. A Partial History of Lost Causes is a thrilling debut by a young writer who evidently shares the uncanny brilliance of her protagonists. In Cambridge, Mass. On impulse, Irena 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.
Having watched her father die of the condition, Irina organizes her life to minimize its impact.follow
Jennifer duBois’s Debut Novel
She intends to leave no loose ends behind her, and that includes tying up one of her late father's unanswered letters to Soviet-era chess champion-turned-politician Aleksandr Bezetov. We move back and forth from Aleksandr's early chess career and introduction to the political underground in s Leningrad to Irina's contemporary efforts to locate him and ask the question her father had posed to him: How does one proceed against a lost cause? As Bezetov campaigns against an unbeatable Vladimir Putin, the question takes on fresh relevance for all.
Verdict : In her promising debut, Stanford Fellow and playwright duBois presents a tender tale, told with humor and honesty. An engrossing read with a historical twist and a dash of politics; point this one out to any contemporary fiction fan. Stidham, Houston Community Coll. Losing gracefully is a challenge for them both in this mildly piquant debut.
A chess prodigy from a humble home, Aleksandr Bezetov enrolls in Leningrad's chess academy in The lonely young man falls in with three dissidents who put out a journal documenting arrests of fellow activists, and he distributes it, while racking up ever more chess victories. Then one of his companions is killed in an "accident. Meanwhile in Cambridge, Mass. Irina Ellison is the daughter of a music professor and chess enthusiast with Huntington's. He dies after 20 years of brain and body disintegration. The odds of Irina beating this inherited disease are only 30 percent.
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While still lucid, her father had written to Akeksandr, seeking advice on how to make a "graceful exit. Now 30, she is determined to spare her loved ones Bezetov, in a way, felt like a loose end.
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But if a reader is willing to go with it, Aleksandr's story makes up for the forced nature of the plot. The novel's beginning moves between Irina in Boston and Aleksandr's first months in Moscow during the Brezhnev era, where he moves from Sakhalin in the far east to study chess as a teen and ends up falling in love with a prostitute. He falls into a dissident crowd almost by accident, acting as a delivery boy for a samizdat publication. Dubois brings Soviet Russia to life far more vividly than modern Boston, with its freezing apartments and worms coming out of the faucet.
Eventually, the two storylines meet up at a political rally outside of Moscow, where Bezetov is running to highlight government abuses in the new Russia. The combination of chess, politics, and life is a potent one. The novel's opening gambit is terrific, although the plot starts to sprawl out of control near the end, when Dubois abandons chess for a political thriller.
A Partial History of Lost Causes: A Novel
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