(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

The Island of Crimea is a fantasy about a state which has remained free and democratic for sixty years. It is the story of democracy and socialism clashing over the tiny country of Crimea. The principal character, Andrei, is the catalyst bringing about “The Idea of Common Fate,” a movement to reunite Crimea with the Soviet Union.

The novel begins with Andrei Luchnikov driving along a modern, Westernized roadway to visit Kakhova, the mountain estate of his father, Arseny. Andrei is a middle-aged, attractive, and powerful man, who is not only the editor of the nation’s only Russian-language newspaper but also a leading political figure in Crimea. Arseny has uncovered a plot to assassinate Andrei for his efforts toward reunification with the Soviet Union. Andrei considers the threat idle and continues writing columns on the glories of the Soviet Union and the need for Crimea to reunite with her historic past.

Crimea has become a multinational democracy filled with Western-style capitalism. The traditional Crimean people have intermarried with foreigners, creating a cosmopolitan culture. The younger generation has created a language called Yaki, which is a conglomeration of English, French, and Russian. These young people have traveled and consider themselves part of a world community. Andrei sees this as a passing fad, although his son Anton participates in the Yaki movement.

The novel follows Andrei on trips to Paris and Moscow, where characters are introduced who are either opponents or advocates of Crimean reunification. In Paris, at a cocktail party, Andrei is greeted by a Western film director who agrees with the idea of reunification because he anticipates a film spectacle. The Soviet emigres at the party either avoid Andrei or talk to him under the assumption that reunification is a radical idea but not a serious issue. The first attempt on the...

(The entire section is 776 words.)