I spotted Natasha Pulley‘s next novel, The Half Life of Valery K, while browsing NetGalley this morning. Pulley is an author I still have yet to read (no idea why), even though I’ve bought all of her books — each of which sounds fantastic. (I blame Kindle Out-of-Sight Syndrome.) I hope to get caught up as soon as I can. The author’s new novel, apparently based on real events, sounds particularly intriguing. Here’s the synopsis:
An epic Cold War novel set in a mysterious town in Soviet Russia.
In 1963, in a Siberian prison, former nuclear specialist Valery Kolkhanov has mastered what it takes to survive: the right connections to the guards for access to food and cigarettes, the right pair of warm boots, and the right attitude toward the small pleasures of life so he won’t go insane. But one day, all that changes: Valery’s university mentor steps in and sweeps him from the frozen camp to a mysterious unnamed city. It houses a set of nuclear reactors, and surrounding it is a forest so damaged it looks like the trees have rusted from within.
In City 40, Valery is Dr. Kolkhanov once more, and he’s expected to serve out his prison term studying the effect of radiation on local animals. But as Valery begins his work, he is struck by the questions his research raises. Why is there so much radiation in this area? What, exactly, is being hidden from the thousands who live in the town? And if he keeps looking for answers, will he live to serve out his sentence?