Publisher: Rowohlt Verlag
Fyodor Kokoschkin, a man in his nineties and in good health, a professor emeritus, a biologist, a specialist for grasses and straws, is on board of the Queen Mary 2 on the way from Southampton to New York: every day at sea is a chapter in itself – the dinner conversations, the menu, the evening entertainment – ranging from hat fashion shows to karaoke bars or a discreet flirt. Kokoschkin returns back from his journey to his past: to Saint Petersburg, where the Bolsheviks killed his father in 1918. From there he fled via Odessa to Berlin. In Templin, Fyodor gets an open vacancy at a boarding school, finds a job, and meets his friend Aline in the Botanical Gardens of Berlin. He studies. When the Nazis crouch in, he flees again, this time to Prague, and receives a study grant for the USA through the help of the US-American Embassy. The Russian writers Bunin, Khodasevich, and Berberova are important figures in his life and the life of his mother … Kokoschkin’s ever-changing fate vividly brings to life the first half of 20th century with all its persecutions, destinies, and tales of emigration.