Vladivostok Circus by Elisa Shua Dusapin

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Tonight is the opening night. There are birds perched everywhere, on the power lines, the guy ropes, the strings of light that festoon the tent . . . when I think of all those little bodies suspended between earth and sky, it makes me smile to remind myself that for some of them, their first flight begins with a fall.

"Frames human understanding as a series of leaps and falls, as we swoop, somersault, twist and turn to make ourselves understood. Dusapin has perfected the art of these spare, inward-looking novellas." Financial Times

"Rich, immersive, psychologically astute – it’s a star performance all round." Marie Claire

"Dusapin’s beautiful prose, with imagery both metallic and mineral, insinuates its way towards a delicate empathy between the generations, as well as examining the confusion that comes with dual nationality, and the lifetime loss that is exile." Irish Times

"Fragmentation, recurring imagery and a flair for evoking atmosphere so effective that lassitude seems to seep through the pages recalls Deborah Levy’s writing." Guardian

Nathalie arrives at the circus in Vladivostok, Russia, fresh out of art college in Geneva. She is there to design the costumes for a trio of artists who are due to perform one of the most dangerous acts of all: the Russian bar.

As winter approaches, the season at Vladivostok winds down, the windy port city deserted as performers head home; all except the Russian bar trio and their manager. They are scheduled to perform at a festival in Ulan Ude, just before Christmas. 

What ensues is an intimate and beguiling account of four people learning to work with and trust one another. This is a book about the delicate balance that must be achieved when flirting with death in such spectacular fashion. Set against the backdrop of a cloudy ocean, Vladivostok Circus explores collaboration, creativity and belonging, all the while immersing the reader in Dusapin’s trademark dreamlike prose. 

Translated from French by Aneesa Abbas Higgins

Paperback