The Lost Pianos of Siberia
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The Lost Pianos of Siberia

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A Sunday Times 'MUST READ'

'Stunningly written... This is a wonderful book.' SUNDAY TIMES

'An extraordinary, cadenced journey into music, exile and landscape.' EDMUND DE WAAL
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Siberia's story is traditionally one of exiles, penal colonies and unmarked graves. Yet there is another tale to tell.

Dotted throughout this remote land are pianos - grand instruments created during the boom years of the nineteenth century, and humble, Soviet-made uprights that found their way into equally modest homes. They tell the story of how, ever since entering Russian culture under the influence of Catherine the Great, piano music has run through the country like blood.

How these pianos travelled into this snow-bound wilderness in the first place is testament to noble acts of fortitude by governors, adventurers and exiles. That stately instruments might still exist in such a hostile landscape is remarkable. That they are still capable of making music in far-flung villages is nothing less than a miracle.

But this is Siberia, where people can endure the worst of the world - and where music reveals a deep humanity in the last place on earth you would expect to find it.
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'A sparkling debut by an outstanding and gifted author. A brilliant guide to Russia of the past and the present, set around an extraordinary search for the heart, soul and lost keyboards of centuries gone by.' PETER FRANKOPAN

'A masterpiece of modern travel literature with words that sing from its pages. A definitive exploration of Russia's wild east.' LEVISON WOOD
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Product details

  • Hardback | 448 pages
  • 144 x 222 x 40mm | 559g
  • DOUBLEDAY
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0857524941
  • 9780857524942
  • 1,108

Review Text

"Utterly fascinating and revealing to anyone who only knows Siberia through its Great Myth as a forgotten, frozen Nowhere."
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Review quote

What worlds this book traverses! From gilded recital halls to the haunts of Siberian tigers; from remote penal colonies to volcanic islands in the Bering Sea: I felt as if I had travelled through places I had only dreamed of, following these magical instruments through landscapes and histories so full of tragedy and hope. * Daniel Mason, author of THE PIANO TUNER * A thrilling adventure to the ends of the earth, where sunlight glitters in the snowdrifts and the strains of the exile's song floats through the air. Pack your suitcases for Siberia - Sophy Roberts' gorgeous prose will summon you there like a smell. * Cal Flyn, author of THICKER THAN WATER * Utterly fascinating and revealing to anyone who only knows Siberia through its Great Myth as a forgotten, frozen Nowhere. * Christopher Somerville * The Lost Pianos of Siberia is one of those magical books that captures the imagination and draws you into the beauty and majesty of Siberia. Idiosyncratic in style - part travelogue, part history, part detective trail - it is full of wonderful stories about human endurance through adversity and the transformative power of music in the most remote and forgotten outposts of this vast territory. A book to savour and remember. * Helen Rappaport, author of THE LAST DAYS OF THE ROMANOVS * Utterly absorbing - a wonderful addition to the story of resilience, tragedy and triumph that are the hallmarks of Siberia. Roberts displays an empathy and understanding worthy of this deeply haunted, strangely fascinating land. * Benedict Allen * Captures Siberia's wildness, but favours its enchantments. * Times Literary Supplement * Roberts' writing is beguiling. * The i * A modern-day Freya Stark. * Tatler * Courage, patience, erudition and a sympathetic imagination... A travel book of rare quality. * Dervla Murphy * Marvellous... a masterful example of modern historical travel writing * Independent * An extraordinary encounter with a wildly fascinating and astonishingly ill-known region... This is a wonderful book. * Sunday Times * What shines through in this book is Roberts' genuine, humane affection for and fascination with the people she meets in Siberia. * Literary Review * An exuberant, eccentric journey through Russian vastness, European history and Russian culture, The Lost Pianos of Siberia is a quixotic quest, a picaresque travel adventure and a strange forgotten story, all wrapped into one fascinating book. * Simon Sebag-Montefiore * An impressive exploration of Siberia's terrifying past... Richly absorbing. * Guardian * This is an amazing journey, the ultimate quest for the oddest objects - pianos - in the most unlikely place - Siberia. But Sophy Roberts makes it much more than that, an elegant and nuanced journey through literature, through history, through music, murder and incarceration and revolution, through snow and ice and remoteness, to discover the human face of Siberia. I loved this book. * Paul Theroux *
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About Sophy Roberts

Sophy Roberts is a British writer whose work focuses on the wild places from Papua New Guinea to the Congo. She began her career assisting the writer Jessica Mitford, and trained in journalism at Columbia University in New York. She regularly contributes to the Financial Times and the US edition of Conde Nast Traveler, among others. The Lost Pianos of Siberia is her first book.
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