These days, it's not often MOTEV gets her mitts on a book we don't have. The conversation usually goes like this:
MOTEV (Don't forget the Austrian accent): Maaaaark, by any chance, do you have a copy of -
MOTEV: Vat "yep"? You don't even know yet.
TEV: Trust me. Whatever it is, I have it.
MOTEV: Big shot. Maybe this one you don't.
TEV: Try me.
MOTEV: [A title we have already.] (Silence) Fine. Can you send it to me?
But every now and then, she beats us to one. She's been championing Travis Holland's The Archivist's Story ever since it came out. (We still don't have our own copy and she won't part with hers. Dial Press, we're talking to you.) Well, she'll be pleased to know it just won the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award.
Holland’s novel, published in June 2007 by The Dial Press, centers on Pavel, a former teacher who works in the Lubyanka prison archives in Moscow in 1939. Pavel prepares manuscripts for destruction in the service of Stalin-era limits on free expression. Then he comes across an unsigned manuscript apparently written by the famed author Isaac Babel, who has been imprisoned at Lubyanka. Pavel attempts to salvage the work, and later an additional manuscript, for posterity.