I have had David Miller’s novel Snowdrops on my “to read” list for quite a while, after reading a synopsis when it appeared on Amazon’s Rising Stars list earlier this year. It has since then received much acclaim, making it first onto this year’s Man Booker Shortlist, and then subsequently being selected for the final six.
Whichever way you look at it, this is quite some achievement already for a first novel, whether or not it eventually picks up the big prize, and I certainly thought it was an excellent debut from David Miller. The level of knowledge and feel that he displays for the book’s Russian setting was most impressive, and I most definitely look forward to reading more of his work in the future.
Read on for a full review…
It has almost become a cliché, the new Wild West (or east) of post cold-war Russia; the crime and corruption we all hear about in the media, but which most of us will never encounter. Even those of us lucky enough to visit as tourists will probably only see what the average tourist sees; this novel is therefore a real eye opener, an insight into the psyche that drives Russian life, and all the good and bad that goes along with that.
Taken at face value, the story revolves around a central character called Nicholas, a business lawyer, who is working on various projects, including an oil supply contract which is being set up out in Siberia. He appears a decent enough, but slightly lost and naive type of bloke, and is therefore an easy target for those who might exploit him. The dealings for his work project become increasingly more shady, and his private life, over the same period of time, becomes ever more complex and mysterious also.
That simple enough storyline, along with the quality of description of the surroundings, would be basis enough for a decent novel. However, I believe it is the multi-layered examination of what motivates the Russian people, and of who exactly is exploiting who (including our main man Nicholas), that really adds the depth which explains the novel’s success and acclaim so far.
Engagingly written, and very difficult to put down, Snowdrops is a remarkable achievement for David Miller, especially considering it is his first novel. Highly recommended for a cold Winter night in!
Already read Snowdrops? What did you think of it? Please post a comment below, Novel Suggestions is always keen to hear your opinions.
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