The Coronation (Russian: Коронация, или Последний из романов, "Coronation, or the Last of the Romanovs") is a historical mystery novel by internationally acclaimed Russian detective story writer Boris Akunin, published originally in 2000. It is subtitled великосветский детектив ("high-society detective"). This novel is scheduled to be published in English in 2009.
The scene of this seventh novel in the Erast Fandorin series is set in 1896 Moscow, at the time of the coronation of tsar Nicholas II (between 6 May and 20 May O.S.). Akunin prominently features the Khodynka Tragedy of 18 May 1896, when nearly 1400 people were killed when a crowd at the coronation festival stampeded.
The book won the Russian Anti-Booker Prize in 2000 for prose. Many Akunin fans in Russia state this book is his best, reading about the tragic atmosphere of late 19th century Russia. However, members of the Russian Orthodox Church objected to the negative portrayal of many members of the Romanov family, especially the characterization of the character Grand Duke Simeon Alexandrovich as a homosexual.
The story is told from the perspective of Afanasi Zyukin, the majordomo of Grand Duke
George Alexandrovich. Erast Fandorin investigates the abduction of Grand Duke Michail, the four-year-old youngest son of George Alexandrovitch, by criminal mastermind "Doctor Lind" whom Fandorin has been pursuing for several years. Their initial confrontation is briefly described in the novella "Dream Valley" from the Jade Rosary Beads
collection. This time, Lind demands the Orloff diamond
, a prerequisite for the upcoming coronation, as a ransom. Nicholas II is portrayed as dependent on his uncles Cyril and Simeon, the Governor-General
Akunin distorts the Romanov family relations somewhat. The three uncles of Nicolas II (sons of Alexander II) are semi-fictitious:
The original Russian title, Коронация, или Последний из романов
, could be literally translated as Coronation, or the Last of the novels
(note the lack of capitalization on the last Russian word). The title is however to be understood as The Last of the Romanovs
, although the last word should then have been Романовых. The reason for the broken Russian in the title becomes apparent only at the very end of the book, where an Englishman says this phrase using his dictionary, failing to inflect the last word correctly.
Despite its title, this is not the last Fandorin novel.
References and external links
- Shneidman, N.N. Russian Literature, 1995-2002: On the Threshold of the New Millennium. 2004, University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0802086705
- Štulhofer, Aleksandar, and Theo Sandfort. Sexuality and Gender in Postcommunist Eastern Europe and Russia. 2005, The Haworth Press. ISBN 0789022931
- Wachtel, Andrew. Remaining Relevant after Communism: The Role of the Writer in Eastern Europe. 2006, University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226867668
- Full text of the novel, in Russian