Paul Russell

The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov
In this novel based on the extraordinary life of the gay brother of Vladimir Nabokov, Paul Russell re-creates the rich and changing world in which Sergey, his family and friends lived; from wealth and position in pre-revolutionary Russia, to the halls of Cambridge University, and the Parisian salon of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. But it is the honesty and vulnerability of Sergey, our young gay narrator, that hook the reader: his stuttering childhood in the shadow of his brilliant brother, his opium-fueled evenings with his sometime lover Cocteau, his troubled love life on the margins of the Ballets Russes and its legendary cast, and his isolation in war-torn Berlin where he will ultimately be arrested, sent to a camp and die in 1945.
A meticulously researched novel, in which you will meet an extraordinary cast of characters including Picasso, Diaghilev, Stravinsky, Magnus Hirschfield, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Cocteau, and of course the master himself, Vladimir Nabokov, this is ultimately the story of a beautiful and vulnerable homosexual boy growing into an enlightened and courageous man.
You can read advance praise for The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov here.
Press reviews include:
"Splendid... A stylish and tragic 'confluence of histories, cultures, and languages.'"— The Washington Post 

"Notable Fiction of 2011" — The Washington Post 

“With compelling characters and steady prose, the reader will breeze through this pleasurable, heart-breaking account of the other Nabokov.”—Publishers Weekly

“A story that will make you laugh and smile then breaks your heart, this is a rich tapestry of the human condition. Highly recommended.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“Russell brings his readers on a wild romp through the gay and artistic cliques that were changing the face of the art and literary worlds in the 1920s and 30s….Sergey [is] the perfect guide through history. He is the everyman, fascinating not through any action of his own but by the complexities of the time in which he lives.”—Foreword

The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov displays linguistic artistry through portraying ruin in all its forms—the scattering of family ties, the loss of one’s country, and the consequences of war, death, addiction and forbidden love. It’s a life story that does, in fact, seem “unreal,” and is made all the more remarkable for its veracity. Kudos to writer Paul Russell for presenting the historical persona of “the gay Nabokov” in a fictional format that succeeds at drawing the reader into Sergey’s improbably true life.”—Lambda Literary

“An insightful and moving glimpse into the inner life of a sensitive gay man existing in the long shadow of a famous brother.”—XTRA

“Russell’s stellar research and inventiveness make this obscure figure an unforgettable gay hero.”—Edge