An impressively topical novel about a post-Soviet society sinking into a swamp of corruption and terror. Through the lens of his hero Anton, von Schirach tells how the global conflicts between Russia, China and the West over mineral resources, power and influence are fought out with the hardest of sticks – and how the individual is ground down in the process, should he not follow the commercial codes of the new era.
by Norris Von Schirach
Penguin Verlag, September 2022
When Vladimir Putin becomes president in January 2000, Anton, a rich commodities trader, flees Moscow. Behind him lie eight breathtaking years in post-Soviet predatory capitalism, ahead of him yawning boredom in the well-off milieu of New York. But even at forty, Anton is still an incorrigible romantic in search of the next thrill. Then a headhunter makes him an enticing offer. Anton is to build up a steel company in Kazakhstan, which is so rich in mineral resources, with money from anonymous sources. The German embarks on the adventure and learns painfully how local clans and insatiable elites ruthlessly defend the loot they have amassed after the fall of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, Anton finds allies and makes a momentous pact.
Norris von Schirach, born in Munich in 1963, worked in London and New York after graduating from high school and completing a commercial apprenticeship. After his studies, he lived in Moscow from 1993 to 2003. There he experienced the euphoria and frustration of the Yeltsin years, when the border between organized crime and state institutions dissolved while large parts of the population became impoverished. Norris von Schirach has a son and now lives in Romania after extended stays in Kazakhstan and Australia.