Author(s): Robert Littell
In March 1953, four women meet in Room 408 of Moscow's deluxe Hotel Metropol. They have gathered to reminisce about Vladimir Mayakovsky, the poet who in death had become a national idol of Soviet Russia. In life, however, he was a much more complicated figure. The four women, each of whom could claim to have been a muse to the poet, loved or loathed Mayakovsky in the course of his life, and as they piece together their conflicting memories of him, a portrait of the artist as a young idealist emerges. From his early years as a leader of the Futurist movement to his work as a propagandist for the Revolution, and on to the censorship battles that turned him against the state (and, more ominously, the state against him), their recollections reveal Mayakovsky as a passionate, complex, sexually obsessed man trapped in the epicentre of history, struggling to hold on to his ideals in the face of a revolution betrayed. Vladimir M is an ambitious, impressive novel that brings to life the tumultuous Stalinist era and the predicament of the artists ensnared in it.
Robert Littell is the author of more than a dozen novels, including A Nasty Piece of Work, Legends, the Stalin Epigram and Young Philby. He has been awarded both the CWA Gold Dagger and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and his novel The Company was a New York Times bestseller. Both The Company and Legends have been adapted for television. He lives in France.