Passport to Yesterday:
A Novel in Eleven Stories

Yuri Druzhnikov

illustrated by M. Belomlinsky
translated from the Russian by Thomas Moore
Peter Owen 2004
A book review by Danny Yee © 2011
The eleven stories in Passport to Yesterday are built around links between violinist Oleg Nemets' childhood in Russia during the Second World War and his adult life as an emigré in San Francisco. They work as individual stories but cohere to form an effective mosaic novel.

Druzhnikov captures the excitements and fascinations and commitments of youth and the nostalgia and perspective of age. He links past and present in different ways, through memories, visits to childhood locations, physical objects, and encounters with old acquaintances.

Some of the stories involve quite dark material — the conscription of Oleg's father, whom his family never saw again, or the brutal end of a bully — but they are never bleak, with the adult framing always positive and the third-person narrative helping the reader maintain a distance. Nor, despite plenty of opportunity, does Druzhnikov force a response by over-plucking the emotional strings, maintaining an intellectual clarity, even precision, in his approach.

Passport to Yesterday is a lightly handled, elegiac evocation of both a childhood and the memories of that childhood.

February 2011

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%T Passport to Yesterday
%S A Novel in Eleven Stories
%A Druzhnikov, Yuri
%M Russian
%F Moore, Thomas
%Q Belomlinsky, M.
%I Peter Owen
%D 2004 [1998]
%O hardcover
%G ISBN 0720612187
%P 204pp