MONGOLIAN ETUDES by Vladimir Azarov. $16.95 - 176 pages.
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A wonderful, idiosyncratic look at Soviet life as witnessed from the edge of that totalitarian empire. This book is made up of letters, poems, and prose pieces that together create a special narrative. Through an entirely original form, Vladimir Azarov, who trained to be an architect in Moscow during Stalin’s Iron Curtain years, begins with a simple exploratory exchange of bureaucratic letters that lead back to days when the young Azarov was overseeing the design and construction of an Embassy building in the isolated Soviet republic of Mongolia. It was there that he met a remarkable Mongolian woman, and it was through her that he was introduced to the Leningrad world of the great Russian poet, Anna Akhmatova, and her social scientist son, Lev Gumilev. Out of this nostalgic quest emerges, through a newly discovered memoir, a totally unexpected love story involving the Mongolian woman and Gumilev. This enthralling account is a cultural study of the times, a testimony to the endurance of memory and feeling, and a touching exploration of the human condition.

"In the grand old tradition of Steele and Addison and the eighteenth-century English periodicals, there was a familiar character, a Citizen of the World, who brought whimsical knowledge from foreign lands to London. Vladimir Azarov is like that, an innocent abroad, not only living in a new world, but looking back to the old as he starts a new career as a poet, bringing fresh insight with a shy smile." —Ray Ellenwood, translator, editor, Professor Emeritus at York University in Toronto

Vladimir Azarov is an architect and poet, formerly from Moscow, who lives in Toronto. His collections of poetry include Thaw Songs, Seven Lives, Mongolian Etudes, Dinner With Catherine the Great, Of Life and Other Small Sacrifices, Imitation, The Kiss from Mary Pickford: Cinematic Poems, and Voices in Dialogue: Dramatic Poems.

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