The Underground by Hamid Ismailov

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“One of the best Russian novels of the 21st Century” Continent Magazine

The Underground is the unforgettable story of an abandoned mixed-race boy navigating the wondrous and terrifying city of Moscow before the Soviet Union's collapse.

“I am Moscow’s underground son, the result of one too many nights on the town.” So declares Mbobo, the unforgettable twelve-year-old narrator of this captivating novel by exiled Uzbek author and BBC journalist Hamid Ismailov. Born to a Siberian woman and an African athlete competing in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Mbobo spends his days navigating the subterranean arteries of the Metro and the challenges of being a fatherless, mixed-race boy in the precarious days of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

While paying homage to great Russian authors of the past—Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Gorky, Nabokov, Pushkin—Ismailov emerges as the master of a new kind of Russian writing that probes the sordid post-Soviet present. The Underground is a dizzying and moving tour of the Soviet capital, on the surface and beneath, before its colossal fall.

Translated by Carol Ermakova. 

Paperback