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Winner-Prix Médicis for nonfiction
No stranger to inhospitable places, Sylvain Tesson exiles himself to a wooden cabin on Siberia’s Lake Baikal, a full day’s hike from any “neighbor,” with his thoughts, his books, a couple of dogs, and many bottles of vodka for company. Writing from February to July, he shares his deep appreciation for the harsh but beautiful land, the resilient men and women who populate it, and the bizarre and tragic history that has given Siberia an almost mythological place in the imagination.
“Like vodka thrown into a burning wood stove, this book blazes dangerously, beautifully, illuminating its subjects with mischievous flames of lyricism and wit. Brilliant and unforgettable.” ~David George Haskell, Professor of Biology at The University of the South, author of The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch In Nature, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
“Sylvain Tesson ventures where Thoreau only talked about–into the wilderness of nature and solitude. He writes with the lyrical cynicism of a Raymond Chandler about nature, kitsch, violence, herd behavior, and the glory of paying attention. Equipped with books, cigars, and vodka, plus a good knife and solar panels, Tesson takes time to look real life in the eye, and–in prose of startling clarity and candor–makes a spiritual quest both suspenseful and funny.” ~Michael Sims, author of The Story of Charlotte’s Web
“Comparisons to Walden are inevitable and, to an extent, justified. Yet what makes Tesson’s work so refreshing is its freedom from Thoreau-vian moralizing. Solitude may be necessary and healing; but living life as a fully realized human being with attachments to society is an art rather than a thing to be despised. Moving, wise and profound.” ~Kirkus Reviews