Sekret/Lindsay Smith: Reflections

Sunday, August 3, 2014

In June, at Books of Wonder, I met (among other fine writers) the debut novelist Lindsay Smith, who professed a love for Russian culture. She has traveled to Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Siberia. She writes about foreign affairs in Washington, DC. And for her first novel she imagined a 17 year old named Yulia who has psychic capabilities and is "recruited" (to use a kind word) by the KGB.

Lindsay's sentences have pace and glimmer. Her knowledge of that time is stunning. And when I reached this passage, about East Berlin, I knew I was in the company of a like-minded researcher and writer. How beautifully she captures that place. It's a slightly different (by which I mean earlier) Berlin from the one I write of Going Over. But it is wholly recognizable to those who have read the history books.

East Berlin is a concrete crypt. Everywhere I look, stark, flat buildings rise out of shell-shocked rubble and watch us with broken windows for eyes. The streets hold no cars. The old buildings—from before Stalin seized this land for his own—look safe from one side, but when we pass them, the rest is crumpled by artillery fire, the wreckage blocked off by barbed-wire fences. The few people we pass fix their stares on their feet and hurry past us. Coal smoke and sulfur linger around every corner as we wade through half-melted black slush.
 Congratulations to a young writer with great seriousness of purpose—and reliable knowledge.


Serena said...

Are you trying to make my TBR list tower over my head? LOL

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