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The best titles are simple, exact, and keep writers on track. Despite the vast wilderness of Siberia, journalist Sophy Roberts never strays from her mission: finding a worthy instrument for a Mongolian pianist. The piano rose in Russia under Catherine The Great, becoming status symbols and soft friends to the exiled. Today, many of these uprights sit in remote communities, their cryo-d connections thawed by the author’s hungry spirit that pushes forward on trains, snow-mobiles and resourcefulness. Roberts recalls her journey into this ‘sleeping land’, Dostoevsky’s ‘house of the living dead’, with lyrical prose. Among other things, you learn anthropology, of frenzied fandom in the 1800s, of human kindness in the gulags, and of the ecological apathy that comes from being at the end of everything. Much like Siberia, the narrative is endlessly absorbing—and in a rare win, even the author’s note is dreamy.
Penguin Random House; £9.99
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