by Paul Russell

Cleis Press, $16.95, 320 pages

Sergey Nabokov was always an outsider – as different from his lauded brother, Vladimir, as he could be. He was loved by his family but not accepted and at odds with the culture around him. Mostly this was due to his homosexuality but also due to his inability to hide his true self or pretend to be anything other than himself. The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov traces his life from childhood through adulthood in two drastically different settings – his current story, set in Nazi-controlled Berlin in 1943 and in the Russia of his youth. As Sergey recounts his life, choices and struggles, his past and his present intersect.

Author Paul Russell does a wonderful job in recreating Sergey’s life and giving him a real voice – one full of truth, insecurity, and courage with both his family and the outside world. This is a fascinating story that fans of historical fiction and fictionalized biographies will enjoy.

Barbara Cothern