Lost in the Taiga

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

LOST IN THE TAIGA is a true tale of adventure, travel, history, and discovery. In 1979, a team of Soviet geologists came upon a family deep in the Siberian wilderness which consisted of an elderly man and his middle aged children. It soon became apparent that the family (the Lykovs) had lived since the 1940’s without any contact with the outside world. Stranger still, the Lykovs spoke and wrote in antiquated Russian and were unacquainted with even the most basic modern technology. They were Old Believers, members of a sect that had split from the Russian Orthodox Church more than three centuries ago and whose members have lived on the periphery of Russian society ever since.

After they were discovered, the family became well known in the Soviet press. Peskov (who wrote for PRAVDA) visited them on numerous occasions, bringing them gifts of clothing and household items which poured in from his readers. Over time, sadly, all but one member of the family (a daughter named Agafia) died. Despite pleas from relatives to join them in civilization, Agafia insisted on remaining in the wilderness, where she still lives.

Peskov recounts this story with insight and compassion. He is most touching when describing the impact which being discovered had on the Lykovs. The outpouring of material aid from the Russian people helped them greatly; it also made them more dependent on others. It was their firm attachment to their religious faith which nevertheless preserved their dignity and integrity. Peskov shows great admiration for them and for the untamed natural environment in which they chose to live.