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Day after day the Russian asylum-seekers sit across from the interpreter and Peter – the Swiss officers who guard the gates to paradise – and tell of the atrocities they’ve suffered, or that they’ve invented, or heard from someone else. These stories of escape, war, and violence intermingle with the interpreter’s own reading: a history of an ancient Persian war; letters sent to his son Nebuchadnezzasaurus,’ ruler of a distant, imaginary childhood empire; and the diaries of a Russian singer who lived through Russia’s wars and revolutions.’
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