Excerpt from Archangel by Robert Harris, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Archangel

by Robert Harris

Archangel
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Dec 1998, 373 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2000, 415 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


By the time the Russian delegates were added in, plus a few diplomatic observers, the press, and maybe fifty members of the public, the hall was impressively full. Kelso sank heavily into his place in the second row. Up on the platform, Professor Valentin Askenov of the Russian State Archives had launched into a long explana-tion of the microfilming of the Party records. O'Brian's cameraman walked backward down the central aisle, filming the audience. The sharp amplification of Askenov's sonorous voice seemed to pierce some painful chamber of Kelso's inner ear. Already, a kind of metallic, neon torpor had descended over the hall. The day stretched ahead. He covered his face with his hands.
Twenty-five million sheets . . . recited Askenov, twenty-five thousand reels of microfilm . . . seven million dollars . . .

Kelso slid his hands down his cheeks until his fingers converged and covered his mouth. Frauds! he wanted to shout. Liars! Why were they all just sitting here? They knew as well as he did that nine tenths of the best material was still locked up, and to see most of the rest required a bribe. He'd heard that the going rate for a captured Nazi file was a thousand dollars and a bottle of scotch.

He whispered to Adelman, "I'm getting out of here."
"You can't."
"Why not?"
"It's discourteous. Just sit there, for pete's sake, and pretend to be interested like everyone else." Adelman said all this out of the side of his mouth, without taking his eyes off the platform. Kelso stuck it out for another half minute.
"Tell them I'm ill."
"I shall not."
"Let me by, Frank. I'm going to be sick."
"Jesus . . ."

Adelman swung his legs to one side and pressed himself back in his seat. Hunched in a vain effort to make himself less conspicuous, Kelso stumbled over the feet of his colleagues, kicking in the process the elegant black shin of Ms. Velma Byrd.
"Aw, fuck, Kelso," said Velma.

Professor Askenov looked up from his notes and paused in mid-drone. Kelso was conscious of an amplified, humming silence and of a kind of collective movement in the audience, as if some great beast had turned in its field to watch his progress. This seemed to last a long time, for at least as long as it took him to walk to the back of the hall. Not until he had passed beneath the marble gaze of Lenin and into the deserted corridor did the droning begin again.

Kelso sat behind the bolted door of a bathroom cubicle on the ground floor of the former Institute of Marxism-Leninism and opened his canvas bag. Here were the tools of his trade: a yellow legal pad, pencils, an eraser, a small Swiss Army knife, a welcome pack from the organizers of the symposium, a dictionary, a street map of Moscow, his cassette recorder, and a Filofax that was a palimpsest of ancient numbers, lost contacts, old girlfriends, former lives.

There was something about the old man's story that was familiar to him, but he couldn't remember what it was. He picked up the cassette recorder, pressed rewind, let it spool back for a while, then pressed play. He held it to his ear and listened to the tinny ghost of Rapava's voice.

". . . Comrade Stalin's room was a plain man's room. You've got to say that for Stalin. He was always one of us . . ."
rewind. play.
". . . and here was an odd thing, boy: He had taken off his shiny new shoes and had them wedged under one fat arm . . ."
rewind. play.
". . . Know what I mean by Blizhny, boy? . . ."
". . . by Blizhny, boy? . . ."
". . . by Blizhny . . ."

Excerpted from Archangel by Robert Harris. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Harmony
    Harmony
    by Carolyn Parkhurst
    In previous novels such as The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst has shown herself...
  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...
  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman in Moscow
    A Gentleman in Moscow
    by Amor Towles
    It is June 21, 1922, and 33-year-old Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is convicted of being a class ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Darling Days
    by iO Tillett Wright

    A devastatingly powerful memoir of one young woman's extraordinary coming of age.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.