Kolyma Diaries | Granta

  • Published: 03/04/2014
  • ISBN: 9781846275029
  • 149x20mm
  • 368 pages

Kolyma Diaries

Jacek Hugo-Bader

Translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones

From the author of the award-winning White Fever, Kolyma Diaries is an excursion into one of the world’s last remaining badlands, a place full of Gulag ghosts and living wrecks. All along the 2000 kilometres of the Kolyma highway, Bader is plied with vodka. He hears mesmerizing, sometimes devastating, tales of the journeys that brought his ‘fellow travellers’, the people who give him lifts, to this benighted land. This is a book about the descendants of prisoners eking out a living, of conmen and veterans and scrap iron dealers, of corrupt politicians and organised crime. Stories are told of sons given away, husbands who reappear after three decades, scholars who now survive by foraging for mushrooms and berries, sculptors who hoard the heads lopped off statues of Lenin, miners who dig up mass graves while looking for gold, and all the addicts, convicts, fallen heroes and even sportsmen who run away from their troubles and end up in the most remote region in Russia

I have never read a book that more purely captures the strangeness of travel in remote bits of Russia... A fascinating composite impression of one of the wildest bits of one of the world's weirdest countries... told by a masterful traveller

Oliver Bullough, Daily Telegraph****

Hugo-Bader extracts brilliant tales from the extraordinary characters he meets. A staggering, eye-opening account of a hellish region

Carl Wilkinson, Financial Times

One of the most memorable travel books I have read, sometimes hilarious and sometimes almost unbearably sad stories of death, courage, cruelty and vodka. Jacek Hugo-Bader has travelled in some of the strangest and most remote reaches of Siberia, but what he has brought back are stories of the furthest reaches of the human spirit. Magnificent

Andrew Brown, author, Fishing in Utopia

The Author

Born in 1957, JACEK HUGO-BADER is a Polish journalist for the leading daily paper, Gazeta Wyborcza. An unconventional traveller, he has biked across Central Asia, the Gobi Desert, China and Tibet, and has kayaked across Lake Baikal. His journey by jeep from Moscow to Vladivostok in the winter of 2007 is described in his book, White Fever.

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The Translator

ANTONIA LLOYD-JONES’s translations include work by Jacek Hugo-Bader, Artur Domoslawski, and Jacek Dehnel. She won the Found in Translation Award 2008 for her translation of Pawel Huelle’s The Last Supper, and again in 2013 for having seven translations published in a single year. She is a mentor for the British Centre for Literary Translation’s mentorship programme.

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From the Same Author

White Fever

Jacek Hugo-Bader, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones

This is the story of a journey like no other, as Jacek Hugo-Bader makes his way across Siberia, from Moscow to Vladivostok, in the middle of winter. Travelling alone in a modified Russian jeep, he traverses a continent that is two-and-a-half times bigger than America, awash with bandits and not always fully equipped with roads. Along the way, Hugo-Bader discovers a great deal of tragedy, but also plenty of dark humour among the reindeer shepherds, nomadic tribes, the former hippies, the shamans, and the followers of some of the many arcane religions that flourish in this isolated, impossible region.