It is the summer of 1945. The Allies have triumphed in Europe and Hitler has vanished. But with Japanese forces gathering just across the border in occupied China, brutal warfare on Russian soil remains a real and constant threat to Soviet life.
For Petka, a rambunctious twelve-year-old boy with dreams too big for his tiny village of Razgulyaevka, the prospect of invasion is dangerously thrilling. He watches the Red Army troops march off to engage the enemy, and wages his own war—against boredom, bullies, and his lot in life as a bastard in a backwoods world. Secretly raising a wolf in his grandmother’s goat barn, happily raising hell with the local troops, stowing away in a shipment of bootleg booze destined for the combat zone, and defying death by the noose, Petka eagerly takes all he can from life, with an irrepressible spirit.
Nominated for the 2014 Rossica Translation Prize.