Books: Time Bomb

ST. PETERSBURG (310 pp.)—Andrey Biely—Grove ($4.75).

There is nothing like a ticking time bomb to supply fictional suspense, and perhaps no writer has ever used the device more successfully than Andrey Biely in St. Petersburg, originally published in Russia in 1913 and now translated into English for the first time. Biely (real name: Boris Bugaiev) died in 1934, a political pariah; like Boris Pasternak, he was a Russian who came to see that revolution often destroys more than it creates.

The novel's hero is a young St. Petersburg philosophy student, Nikolai Apollonovich, who has got mixed up with a seedy revolutionary gang...

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