Because of the title, maybe you were expecting something written in the same antic spirit with which Mikhail Bulgakov wrote The Master and Margarita. Julie Lekstrom Himes’s novel, however, is a completely different animal. It’s straightforward realism: a searing look at how cruelly the Stalinist state treated its artists and writers (and gets really painful to read around p. 216)
Bulgakov is not the only victim of the state. No writer, it seems, escaped. The cruelest fates are reserved for Mayakovsky and Mandelstam. But there were many others.
p. 213, Margarita has disappeared, and Bulgakov goes to Lubyanka on a futile search for information.
Guard: I have no information available.
Bulgakov: Every week I hear the same thing — do you know if she is even in there?
Guard: Is she out there with you?
Bulgakov: Of course not.
Guard: Then she is here.
Meanwhile, inside Lubyanka, Margarita “was told her attitude did not help her. When she returned to her cell, a metal shutter had been screwed over the window. Where the clock had hung there were only wires.”
Since we know precisely how much sun passes through this window every day (16 minutes, Margarita could tell by the clock), the sudden withdrawal of this small comfort (the guards knew!) is particularly awful.
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.