Books: Washington Is Halfway to the Moon

A Soviet dissident moves to the U.S. with "baggage in my head"

Avid Russian readers used to strip Soviet bookshops of a new novel by Vasili Aksyonov as if they were stocking up on candles before a storm. A first printing of 100,000 copies would vanish from the stores within 48 hours, and any magazine containing an Aksyonov short story, like his celebrated Halfway to the Moon, could count on the immediate sellout of a 2 million-copy press run. No other prose writer of the post-Stalin generation commanded such an impassioned following; no other offered a more radical departure from the standard...

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