Ken Kalfus's mesmerising first novel is about two events that become milestones in the history of the modern media: the death of Tolstoy and the murder of Lenin. One yound filmmaker was there. The story begins in 1910, as Leo Tolstoy lies dying in Astapovo, a railway station in provincial Russia. Members of the press from around the world have descended upon this sleepy hamlet to record his passing for a public suddenly ravenous for celebrity news. Cinema is the newcomer, and Nikolai Gribshin arrives to capture the extraordinary scene and learn how to wield his camera as a political tool. At this historic moment, he comes across two men - the scientist, Professor Vorobev, and the revolutionist, Joseph Stalin - who have radical, mysterious plans for the future. Soon they will accompany him on a long, cold march through an era of brutality and absurdity, as science struggles with superstition. Brimming with intellect, humour, and rich, inventive storytelling, THE COMMISSARIAT OF ENLIGHTENMENT is a novel of ideas that brilliantly evokes the tragi-comic world of revolutionary Russia as well as the birth of today's image-based society.
Ken Kalfus has lived in Paris, Dublin, Belgrade and Moscow. He is the author of THIRST and PU-239 AND OTHER RUSSIAN FANTASIES. His fiction has appeared in HARPERS and THE VILLAGE VOICE Literary Supplement.
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