Winner of Wales Book of the Year 2009 (Welsh-language)
This acclaimed historical novel by Wiliam Owen Roberts confirms his status as one of our leading Welsh-language writers. Petrograd is an ambitious book, exploring the Russian Revolution of 1917 through the lives of a rich cast of compelling characters. The novel opens as a well-to-do family embarks on its last, apparently carefree, seaside holiday in Yalta before their comfortable world falls apart. The dramatic events are traced primarily through the eyes of young Alyosha, whose boyhood comes to as abrupt an end as the old way of life. Struggling to adapt to new realities, he both experiences and witnesses the disintegration of the middle classes. As monied certainties give way to anarchy, he is forced to find his own strategies for survival in the face of starvation and violence.
The pace never flags throughout this substantial novel with its direct, deceptively straightforward style, as harsh reality gradually dispels complacency and idealism gives way to political pragmatism and petty, personal revenges. As in his previous work, through a strong narrative and without polemic Roberts presents a shrewd and unsparing analysis of class tensions, prejudice and injustice. His painstaking research is worn lightly as he builds up a vivid account of the evolution of Russian society from 1916 to 1924 as seen from within. Mediating that formative period through individual lives, Petrograd provides a thought-provoking and timeless commentary on the inseparability of political and private life.
'Petrograd is another reason to celebrate the thriving state of the novel in Wales.'