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It is 1918 in S-, a small town not far from Moscow. Rozanov and his family have fled the capital because of food shortages and political unrest. In S- Rozanov nearly completes a manuscript he has been working on in secret-Polina. Polina is Apollinaria Suslova, Dostoevsky’s mistress in the 1860s and later Rozanov’s first wife. When they split up, she makes it clear that he is never to write about their relationship under any circumstances. But now, circumstances being what they are, he pins all his hopes on getting the Polina manuscript to a publisher in Moscow. What follows is the Polina manuscript, and the further unfolding of the lives of those connected to Rozanov as they edge closer and closer to one of history’s most formidable precipices. Whether as dream memoir, historical fiction or millenarian triptych, Polina is a carnivalesque celebration of Russia’s other life-its literature.

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