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Publisher's Summary

In the fall of 1869 Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky, lately a resident of Germany, is summoned back to St. Petersburg by the sudden death of his stepson, Pavel. Half crazed with grief, stricken by epileptic seizures and erotically obsessed with his stepson's landlady, Dostoevsky is nevertheless intent on unravelling the enigma of Pavel's life. 

Was the boy a suicide or a murder victim? Did he love his stepfather or despise him? Was he a disciple of the revolutionary Nechaev, who even now is somewhere in St. Petersburg pursuing a dream of apocalyptic violence? 

As he follows his stepson's ghost - and becomes enmeshed in the same demonic conspiracies that claimed the boy - Dostoevsky emerges as a figure of unfathomable contradictions: naive and calculating, compassionate and cruel, pious and unspeakably perverse.

©1994 J M Coetzee (P)2020 Audible, Ltd

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Excellent Narration of a Masterpiece

Though I am a long-time fan of J. M. Coetzee's fiction, this is the first audiobook of his novels I have listened. I had already read this book once, without listening to the audiobook. So when took it up to reread it, I decided to accompany the reading with the audio narration. I'm glad that I made that decision.

I really like the voice and style of the narrator (Andrew Byron). His voice precisely conveys the emotions and personalities of the characters, particularly of the bereaved protagonist, Fyodor Dostoevsky (yes, Dostoevsky is the "master of Petersburg" of the title). The timbre and pacing of the narration is wonderful, and the listener is immediately immersed in the melancholic world of the heartbroken protagonist.

If you are already familiar with the book, this narration will add a fresh layer to your appreciation of the same. For me, the narration made the story and the characters come alive, and lent them with a unique flavour and distinct personalities.

And if you are not familiar with the novel, do go for it. This is one of the finest novels of the twentieth century, which portrays a father's grief at the death of his son like few other works of fiction do.

The story deals with Dostoevsky's tackling of the death of his stepson, which is soon revealed to be a political murder, adding salt to injury. Incidentally, the novel was occasioned by the death of Coetzee's own 22 years old son. You would feel the pain and suffering of both the author and the character with acute intensity in each and every sentence of the novel. The narrator is quite successful in bringing out the minutest of emotions through his voice-artistry.