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The Commissariat of Enlightenment: A Novel

The Commissariat of Enlightenment: A Novel

by Ken Kalfus
The Commissariat of Enlightenment: A Novel

The Commissariat of Enlightenment: A Novel

by Ken Kalfus


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Russia, 1910. Leo Tolstoy lies dying in Astapovo, a remote railway station. Members of the press from around the world have descended upon this sleepy hamlet to record his passing for a public suddenly ravenous for celebrity news. They have been joined by a film company whose cinematographer, Nikolai Gribshin, is capturing the extraordinary scene and learning how to wield his camera as a political tool. At this historic moment he comes across two men — the scientist, Professor Vorobev, and the revolutionist, Joseph Stalin — who have radical, mysterious plans for the future. Soon they will accompany him on a long, cold march through an era of brutality and absurdity. The Commissariat of Enlightenment is a mesmerizing novel of ideas that brilliantly links the tragedy and comedy of the Russian Revolution with the global empire of images that occupies our imaginations today.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060501396
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/03/2004
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 736,788
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.68(d)

About the Author

ken kalfus is the author of a novel, The Commissariat of Enlightenment, and the short story collections Thirst, which won the Salon Book Award, and Pu-239 and Other Russian Fantasies, which was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Date of Birth:

April 9, 1954

Place of Birth:

Bronx, New York


The New School for Social Research, Sarah Lawrence College, New York University

What People are Saying About This

Andrea Barrett

“Inventive, unusual, humorous, ... deeply intelligent, The Commissariat of Enlightenment beautifully illuminates the hazardous powers of image, icon, and relic.”

Jonathan Franzen

“Kalfus is an ironist in the best late-modern Central European style: wry, humane, precise, and beautifully smitten with ideas.”

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