Christened With Crosses: Notes Taken on My Knees
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Christened with Crosses is the unforgettable story of a young boy’s dangerous, adventure-filled westbound journey along the railways of postwar Russia. Based on a true story of Kochergin’s amazing life, this book depicts the awakening of artistic talent under highly unusual Russian circumstances. It is the memoir of an old man who, as a boy, learnt to find his way between extortionate state control and marauding banditry, the two poles that characterize Russia to this day.
Orphaned when his parents are taken away as “enemies of the people”, young Stepanych finds himself a ward of the Soviet state. He is miraculously rescued from a government orphanage in Nazi-besieged Leningrad, only to be placed in another children’s institution in Siberia—a place of Dickensian attributes, where the leaders earn nicknames like Toad and Screwface, and where the young inmates are able to live their own lives only in secret, by night. Desperately longing for his native city and his Polish mother, Bronya, Stepanych flees the orphanage soon after the end of World War II.
The eight year old boy secretly jumps on board the trains heading west, towards Leningrad. It is not only his desperate courage and his youthful agility that ensure his survival, it is also his artistic talent. With his agile fingers the boy is able to bend wire in the shape of profiles of Lenin and Stalin, as if in silhouette. He uses them to cheer up the invalid war veterans on the train stations returning from the front, who then give him a piece of bread, a bowl of soup and who, in a spirit of comradeship, warn him of the railway police and the secret service henchmen wanting to send the runaway back to the orphanage. Eduard spends more than six years on the run, experiencing close encounters with post-war Russia where life and fate have become synonyms.
This title has been realised by a team of the following dedicated professionals:
Translated by Simon Patterson with Nina Chordas,
Edited by Nina Chordas,
Maxim Hodak - Максим Ходак (Publisher),
Max Mendor - Макс Мендор (Director),
Yana Kovalskaya and Camilla Stein.
- Glagoslav Publications Limited, July 2012
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