LIMONOV, by Emmanuel Carrère, translated from the French by John Lambert (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). Like this maddening, electrifying book—equal parts biography, adventure yarn, and ode—the Russian writer and sometime political agitator Eduard Limonov is a shape-shifter. Born in 1943, he has been a foundry worker and a poet in the U.S.S.R.; a bum and a butler in New York; a literary star in Paris; a fighter in the Balkans; the leader of an ultra-nationalist party in Moscow. Carrère recognizes the risk of being seduced by his subject’s outsize life and macho self-mythologizing. «There were times when I hated Limonov», he confesses, but he is drawn to Limonov’s determination to be «a hero, a truly great man». Carrère’s prose has a brash punk energy; his refusal to flatten Limonov with easy judgment gives the book its life.
«The New Yorker», 17 november 2014