Viggo Mortensen's Bookshelf
By Martin Amis
When I was in England, playing a Russian in the film Eastern Promises, I read and reread lots of Russian literature and poetry. Then this book came out. Amis creates a particular world, a place where, even when overt torture isn't happening, there's a certain atmosphere of brutality. The novel traces the reminiscences of an old man, one of two brothers sent to a Gulag in Siberia who both loved the same woman. It's about jealousy. It's about violence and confession. And it's also about resistance—how the brothers support and betray each other—and how the woman is a victim of their callousness. It's an interesting character study, and one of Amis's leanest pieces of writing.