In this collection, centred on the theme of Childhood, we offer two early stories by Andrei Bitov which reflect the growing awareness in children of life's mystery and beauty; a story by Andrei Platonov, bearing the stamp of his inimitable style; Ludmilla Ulitskaya's perspicacious insight into the complex relationship between twin sisters; an impressionistic story by Zufar Gareev about the torments of adolescence; Leonid Latynin's epic, set in pre-Christian Russia and giving us a glimpse of the dawn of Russian civilisation; Alan Cherchesov's account of an unusually bright Chechen boy living alone in a highland village in the Caucasus; Anatoly Pristavkin tells about childhood in a special orphanage for children of "enemies of the people"; and the latest Booker winners Andrei Sergeev and Sergei Gandlevsky.

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