A Best Book of the Year by Financial Times and Bloomberg
Filled with real political insight and intrigue, this thrilling novel explores the nature of power through the inner workings of Putin’s regime.
Known as the “Wizard of the Kremlin,” the enigmatic Vadim Baranov was a TV producer before becoming a political advisor to Putin, aka “The Czar.” After his resignation from this position, legends about him multiply, with no one able to distinguish truth from fiction. Until one night, when he tells his story to the narrator of this book…
He immerses us in the heart of the Russian state, where sycophants and oligarchs have been engaging in open warfare, and where Vadim, now the regime’s main spin doctor, turns an entire country into an avant-garde political stage. Yet Vadim is not as ambitious as the others. Entangled in the increasingly dark secrets of the regime he has helped create, he will do anything to get out, guided by the memory of his grandfather, an eccentric aristocrat who survived the Revolution, and the mesmerizing, merciless Ksenia, whom he has fallen in love with.
Giuliano da Empoli, once a senior advisor to Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, draws on his experience behind the scenes to create an authentic, compelling portrait of power and how it corrupts.
About the Author
Giuliano da Empoli is an Italian and Swiss writer and political scientist. He was Deputy Mayor for Culture in Florence and a senior advisor to Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi. Since the publication of his first book at age twenty-two, he has published eleven more books on politics and economics. His first novel, The Wizard of the Kremlin, won the Grand Prix du Roman and was a finalist for the Goncourt Prize. It will be translated into more than thirty languages.
Willard Wood grew up in France and has translated more than thirty works of fiction and nonfiction from the French. He has won the Lewis Galantière Award for Literary Translation and received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Translation. His recent translations include Camille de Toledo’s Theseus, His New Life (Other Press 2023) and Patrick Boucheron’s Trace and Aura (Other Press 2022). He lives in Norfolk, Connecticut.
“Gripping…an extraordinary story…this is a book about artifice and the manipulation of reality, and Baranov is such an entertaining raconteur that the reader quickly falls under his spell…the novel serves as a bracing refresher course on the key events of recent Russian history…[it] succeeds on its own terms as a work of fiction, but the fact that it’s rooted in reality adds a chill that lingers long after you have put it down.” —The Guardian
“A novel exploring the inner workings of [Putin’s] government that has captivated France…has become a popular guide for understanding [his] motives.” —New York Times
“This engaging novel offers a mental map of [educated Russians, especially those in power]…da Empoli…displays a remarkable ability to make his characters’ views seem realistic. His understanding of what transpires in the Kremlin is, for this reader, plausible, interesting, and often profound.” —Wall Street Journal “A captivating novel…The book was a sensation…for its insights into cold-blooded power.” —Financial Times, Best Books of the Year “In The Wizard of the Kremlin, the main character…thinks three moves ahead with a dash of clairvoyance as he accompanies Vladimir Putin’s ascendancy.” —Bloomberg, Best Books of the Year
“Empoli is a skilled storyteller and with such rich material to hand it is unsurprising that [The Wizard of the Kremlin] is compelling and convincing, fully deserving of its bestseller status…Its literary achievement elevates the novel above a reductive political analysis of the workings of the Kremlin, bringing it at times closer to Dostoevsky than an academic article or an op-ed.” —New Statesman “A must-read for anyone wondering what Russian President Vladimir Putin is up to and what the Russian people have had to go through during his tenure…this powerful book…is a page-turner.” —Foreign Policy
“Part fiction and part freewheeling analysis, an insider’s look at the world of Vladimir Putin…an epic monologue…authoritative.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A fictional wandering through the dark corridors of the Kremlin.” —The Times (UK), The Biggest Books of the Season
“Putin and how, despite all his failures, he has continued to maintain his hold over Russia makes for fascinating subject-matter...an entertaining novel...engaging.” —Complete Review