Actor Gregory St. John performs this intricately plotted thriller, which explores the bonds of family even in the face of intergenerational and sociopolitical tensions. A Hero’s Daughter, written by Andrei Makine, tells the story of Olya, the daughter of a Russian World War II veteran whose training as a linguist leads her to a job as an interpreter, which carries with it just one catch: She’ll have to work as a spy for Russia’s KGB.
Makine’s portrayal of a country split between old and new guards is tense and compelling, and Gregory St. John reads with a deft, quick confidence that keeps this thrilling novel marching swiftly forward at an irresistible pace.
In World War II Ivan Demidov won the Red Army's highest award for bravery, that of Hero of the Soviet Union. But the decades following the War have brought him a life of hardship, alleviated only by his pride in this achievement and the modest privileges granted to War veterans. His daughter, Olya, on the other hand, born in 1961 and trained as a linguist, takes up a post as an interpreter at Moscow's International Business Center with access to a metropolitan lifestyle beyond the dreams of her parents. The only catch is that her job involves servicing foreign businessmen around the clock and passing on information about them to the KGB.
This is a stunning drama of disillusionment and tension between the two generations: the one that grew up under Stalin and saw its faith in him crumble, and the one that grew up under Brezhnev, fixated on the glamour of the West and its material goods. Makine's vivid and authentic evocation of daily life in post-war Soviet Russia matches in its intensity the portraits of 19th century Russian life offered by Dostoevsky and Tolstoy.