The People's Act of Love
By James Meek
(Canongate U.S., Hardcover, 9781841957302, 400pp.)
Publication Date: November 2005
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In the outer reaches of a country recently torn apart by civil war lives a small Christian sect and its enigmatic leader, Balashov. Anna Petrovna, a beautiful, restless photographer, is raising her young son by herself amid this brutal landscape. Stationed nearby is a company of Czech soldiers, desperate to get home but on the losing side of the recent conflict. Each soldier lives in a fragile co-existence and a troubling uncertainty prevails. Into this isolated community trudges Samarin, an escapee from Russia's northernmost prison camp. Immediately apprehended, he is brought before Captain Matula, the Czech company's megalomaniac commander. But the stranger's appearance has caught the attention of others, including that of Anna Petrovna. And when a local shaman is found murdered, suspicion and terror engulf this village. To be published in twenty countries, The People's Act of Love is quite simply magnificent storytelling and it promises to be an auspicious literary event.