A quiet young Finnish student is forced to share her train compartment with a drunken, tale-telling, self-proclaimed murderer as they cross the crumbling Soviet Union from Moscow to Ulan Bator.
Drenched in sensual detail, carried along by the balladic rhythm of the rails, and punctuated with glimpses of the absurd, surreal, and horrible, Compartment No. 6 is an ambivalent love song to a dying superpower.
Winner of the 2011 Finlandia Prize and the English Pen Award.
A Wall Street Journal best book of 2016.
Reviews of Compartment No. 6:
“Compartment No. 6” unfolds like a poem, or maybe a fable: a mysterious journey by rail across Russia from Moscow to Mongolia over a snow-swept 1980s landscape, not long before the Soviet implosion… the book depicts a fantastical vision of a populace somehow muddling through a world where every engine repeatedly breaks down.” – Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Ms. Liksom conjures beauty from the ugliest of things. As she finds something wily and comical in the unforgettably horrible Ivanov, so she imbues the industrial wastelands with an inexplicable charm. . . . What emerges is a twilight-hued elegy to the sickly last days of a wicked empire.” – The Wall Street Journal
“Liksom catalogues the Soviet Union, using her extraordinary prose to gather the details of an entire nation—promise, want, poverty, corruption, brokenness, hopelessness, hopefulness—into dense, lyrical language. Each word is precise, a note on a piano played well, and when strung together, they make the Soviet Union as real and complex as it is. ” – Grist
“A formulaic ‘odd couple’ tale on the surface, Liksom’s rhythmic prose and Vadim’s wild stories elevate it to the level of serious travelogue, with cleverly veiled layers of commentary on the crumbling Soviet Union. ” – The Lady
“Compartment No 6 is a wickedly mischievous, darkly imaginative and completely unforgettable ride.” – Readings
“[Compartment No. 6] seeks to bury Mother Russia and to praise her. It’s a delicate trick, but one that Finnish author Rosa Liksom pulls off with subtlety and skill. . . . Liksom’s great achievement is that the portrait she paints is difficult for the reader to leave behind.”—Washington Independent Review of Books
U.S. cover design by Kimberly Glyder, cover photography by Pekka Mustonen
U.K. cover design by kid-ethic.com, cover photography © Image Source