A critically-acclaimed Sunday Times, Spectator and Independent BOOK OF 2020
Now with colour photography by Michael Turek
'Richly absorbing... An impressive exploration of Siberia's terrifying past.' Guardian
'Evocative and wonderfully original.' Colin Thubron
Siberia's expansive history is traditionally one of exiles, bitter cold and suffering. Yet there is another tale to tell.
Dotted throughout this remote and beautiful landscape are pianos created during the boom years of the nineteenth century. They tell the story of how, ever since entering Russian culture under the influence of Catherine the Great, piano music has run through the country like blood. How these pianos made the journey into this snow-bound wilderness in the first place is remarkable. That they might be capable of making music in such a hostile landscape feels like a miracle.
The Lost Pianos of Siberia is an absorbing story about a piano hunt - a quixotic quest through two centuries of Russian history and eight time zones stretching across an eleventh of the world's land surface. It reveals not only an unexpected musical legacy, but profound and brave humanity in the last place on earth you might expect to find it.
What readers are saying about The Lost Pianos of Siberia:
***** 'You know a book's good when, on finishing it, you just want to start again.'
***** 'Beautifully written, full of compelling anecdotes celebrating Siberia's extraordinary history.'
***** 'The most unusual and intelligent way to tell a travel story.'
An extraordinary encounter with a wildly fascinating and astonishingly ill-known region... This is a wonderful book.
The ultimate quest for the oddest objects - pianos - in the most unlikely place - Siberia. But Roberts makes it much more than that, an elegant and nuanced journey through literature, through history, through music, murder and incarceration and revolution, through snow and ice and remoteness, to discover the human face of Siberia. I loved this book.
An impressive exploration of Siberia's terrifying past.
An exuberant, eccentric journey through Russian vastness, European history and Russian culture, The Lost Pianos of Siberia is a quixotic quest, a picaresque travel adventure and a strange forgotten story, all wrapped into one fascinating book.
What shines through in this book is Roberts' genuine, humane affection for and fascination with the people she meets in Siberia.
A stunning example of modern historical travel writing
A richly observed cultural history... thrilling.
Fascinating account of Siberia’s horrific legacy told with great verve… Roberts is a wonderfully lyrical writer.
Beautifully written... A unique short history of Russia from Catherine the Great to Putin... A sense of the extraordinary marks every page.
Captures Siberia's wildness, but favours its enchantments.