Eastbound by Maylis De Kerangal
From Archipelago Press:
In this gripping tale, a Russian conscript and a French woman cross paths on the Trans-Siberian railroad, each fleeing to the east for their own reasons
Perfect for fans of Maggie Shipstead’s Great Circle and The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles
Eastbound is both an adventure story and a duet of two vibrant inner worlds.
In mysterious, winding sentences gorgeously translated by Jessica Moore, De Kerangal gives us the story of two unlikely souls entwined in a quest for freedom with a striking sense of tenderness, sharply contrasting the brutality of the surrounding world.
Racing toward Vladivostok, we meet the young Aliocha, packed onto a Trans-Siberian train with other Russian conscripts. Soon after boarding, he decides to desert and over a midnight smoke in a dark corridor of the train, he encounters an older French woman, Hélène, for whom he feels an uncanny trust.
A complicity quickly grows between the two when he manages to urgently ask—through a pantomime and basic Russian that Hélène must decipher—for her help to hide him. They hurry from the filth of his third-class carriage to Hélène’s first-class sleeping car. Aliocha now a hunted deserter and Hélène his accomplice with her own inner landscape of recent memories to contend with.