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The Aviator

From the award-winning author of Laurus

Eugene Vodolazkin




A man wakes up in hospital. He has no idea who he is or how he came to be there. The doctor tells him his name, but he doesn’t remember it. He remembers nothing.

As memories slowly resurface, he begins to build a picture of his former life. Russia in the early twentieth century, the turbulence of the revolution, the aftermath. But how can this be possible when the pills beside his bed are dated 1999?

In the deft hands of Eugene Vodolazkin, author of the multi award-winning Laurus, The Aviator paints a vivid, panoramic picture of life in Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century, richly evoking the sights, sounds and political turmoil of those days. Reminiscent of the great works of Russian literature, and shortlisted for the Russian Booker Prize, it cements Vodolazkin’s position as the rising star of Russia’s literary scene.

  • Publication date: January 3, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781786074843
  • RRP: £9.99
  • Pages: 400
  • Publication date: May 3, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781786072719
  • RRP: £14.99
  • Pages: 400
  • Publication date: May 3, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781786072726
  • RRP: £4.99
  • Pages: 400


‘Vodolazkin’s grip on this narrative is iron-tight... We should expect nothing less from an author whose previous novel, Laurus, was a barnstorming thriller about medieval virtue.’


‘A fascinating, science fiction-tinged chronicle of a century in Russia.’

BBC Culture

‘An unabashed, panoramic view of the landscape of human consciousness... Draped in thoroughly Russian trappings, The Aviator speaks to common experience while soaring into realms that enfold the human drama below.’

Foreword Reviews (starred review)

‘Engaging... Those familiar with twentieth-century Russian history will delight in the swirl of memories that emerge over the course of the narrative.’

World Literature Today

‘Crisply focused, rich in sensory detail... The arc of the narrative is as simple and clever as a philosopher’s parable. But this is also a deeply emotional book...a quietly radical novel, animated by the spirit of Dmitry Likhachev, an academic who knew what it was to suffer the blows of history first-hand.’

Words Without Borders

‘Love, faith, and a quest for atonement are the driving themes of an epic, prizewinning Russian novel that, while set in the medieval era, takes a contemporary look at the meaning of time.... With flavors of Umberto Eco and The Canterbury Tales, this affecting, idiosyncratic novel ... is an impressive achievement.’

Kirkus Reviews

‘Evocative and enigmatic...despite this book’s gentle love story or its murder mystery or its sf flourishes, it is, in many ways, a quintessentially Russian novel, as vivid and probing as they come.’

Booklist (starred review)

‘Vodolazkin amazes again with his exceptional mastery of language.’

Style (Russia)

‘A brilliant, thought-provoking read.’

Historical Novel Society, Editor’s Choice


Shelf Awareness

‘Vodolazkin’s second novel to be translated into English is stylistically different from its brightly filigreed, 15th century-set predecessor, Laurus, but preserves that novel’s sweep and passion for history...the writing, never portentous, blows like fine, dry snow across the pages. Great reading for all audiences.’

Library Journal

‘A playful mockery of historic and scientific hubris that is at the same time an earnest critique of both the Soviet terror and contemporary life.’

Plough Editor's Picks

Eugene Vodolazkin

Eugene Vodolazkin was born in Kiev and has worked in the department of Old Russian Literature at Pushkin House since 1990. He is an expert in medieval Russian history and folklore. Solovyov and Larionov is his debut novel. Laurus (Oneworld, 2015), his second novel but the first to be translated into English, won the National Big Book Award and the Leo Tolstoy Yasnaya Polyana Award and has been translated into eighteen languages. His third novel, The Aviator (Oneworld, 2018), was shortlisted for the Russian Booker Prize and the National Big Book Award. He lives in St Petersburg.

Author page

More books by Eugene Vodolazkin

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