Guillermo Erades' debut is a sharply observed coming of age story that takes a classical view of modern Russia.
Guillermo Erades was born in Malaga, Spain and has lived in Leeds, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Moscow, Berlin and Brussels thanks to a successful career in international relations. In what might seem an unusual move, he took a two-year diplomatic posting in a high-security compound in Baghdad to find the time to focus on his writing. The result was his debut novel Back to Moscow, a novel that draws on his experiences in Russia’s capital city.
Back to Moscow focuses on Martin who came to Moscow at the turn of the millennium hoping to discover the country of Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, and his beloved Chekhov. Instead he found a city turned on its head, where the grimmest vestiges of Soviet life exist side by side with the non-stop hedonism of the newly rich. Along with his hard-living expat friends, Martin spends less and less time on his studies, choosing to learn about the Mysterious Russian Soul from the city's unhinged nightlife scene. But as Martin's research becomes a quest for existential meaning, love affairs and literature lead to the same hard-won lessons. Russians know: there is more to life than happiness.
Back to Moscow is an enthralling story of debauchery, discovery, and the Russian classics. Erades has crafted an unforgettable coming of age story and a complex portrait of a radically changing city.
Read Erades’ article for the Guardian about the process of conjuring up a novel set in Russia while in a compound in Baghdad.