By Edward Docx
Published Jan 2010
LONG LISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2007
He was relieved to be again among the Russians. Nothing to do with his head, or even his heart, but in his soul…
For Gabriel Glover and his twin sister Isabella, St Petersburg is home from home. When their mother, Masha, dies there suddenly and alone, they must leave their separate lives in London and New York and return together to confront the contorted legacy of the past – in the shape of their estranged, malevolent father, Nicholas, and the pitiless stranger Arkady Artamenkov.
Self Help is the startling account of a family, half English, half Russian, with many secrets and a dark, disturbed history. Set in the thick of the present-day Europe but haunted by the shadows of the old East-West order, it examines with great wit and tenderness the bonds and strains that history imposes on siblings and their parents, and the traps the unwittingly create for themselves.
Beguilingly imaginative and beautifully written, Edward Docx’s novel is alive with feeling and intelligence, full of dark humour, and always directly engaged with the modern world. In addressing the most elemental of contradictions – human nature and nurture; honesty and deception; what it means to live with integrity when so much is easily discredited – it emerges as that rarest of discoveries: a truly gripping story.