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Sometimes a novel describes reality so well it creates a physical sensation. Into the Thickening Fog could make even readers in the tropics pull up a blanket.

A famous director returns to his hometown, a tiny city in Russia’s Far North, where he foolishly shows up without even a scarf. But Filippov can’t head straight to his friend’s apartment to share the bad news he’s traveled so far to deliver. The city’s centralized heating system has broken down, chaos ensues, and Filippov finds himself walking through the frigid weather. He struggles to see and even to stand up straight as he stumbles forward, detoured at every turn by obstacles both real and imagined. Luckily, he has a flask of Hennessy and a sense of humor.

At once hilarious and stark, this novel is a great entry point for reading one of Russia’s most celebrated contemporary novelists. Thanks to Andrei Gelasimov’s gift for cinematic scene-setting, you might feel like you’ve just returned from Siberia and are shaking a case of delirium tremens when you finish reading.

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