The acclaimed author of Lost Cosmonaut “takes us into a world of exorcism, cults and oddballs” living in Ukraine, Siberia, and the catacombs beneath Moscow (The Guardian).
In Lost Cosmonaut, travel writer and anti-tourist Daniel Kalder ventured into the most distant republics of the former Soviet Union. Now Kalder is back in Russia to explore some of its strangest communities and hidden places on a year-long odyssey from Moscow to the Arctic Circle.
The trek begins in the sewers of Moscow, where Kalder encounters a lost city inhabited by people known as “the Diggers.” After exploring the depths of this underground planet and meeting the eccentric Utopians who call it home, Kalder journeys to Ukraine, where exorcists chase down demons in the dubious afterglow of the Orange Revolution. In Siberia, he meets a man called Vissarion—a former traffic cop who is now known at the Jesus of Siberia, and to his thousands of followers, the true messiah.
Salvation and damnation collide in this colorful account of a truly unique adventure that “provides rare glimpses into the odd afterlife of a collapsed superpower” (Publishers Weekly).
Like his first book, Lost Cosmonaut, this travelogue trips through the dark side of the former Soviet Union, finding curious societies and characters everywhere. Intrigued by a story about a Moscow group called "the Diggers," who live in a sub-city network of tunnels and secret bunkers, Kalder (a Scotsman who lived in the former S.U. for 10 years) decided to track them down; the "anti-climactic" endeavor found the Diggers hanging out in the underground maze, but living terrestrially. Inspired anyhow, Kalder decides to penetrate the "massed army of dreamers, artists, hippies and musicians that arose after perestroika." His next foray takes him to witness exorcisms "where the reality of demons was already beyond dispute," in the company of an independent film maker who is himself obsessed with Satanism. Back in Moscow, Kalder's drawn to a group leading "almost heroic" lives of discipline and self-sufficiency on a commune, led by the "Jesus of Siberia." He also pursues an odd man with an unfinished monument to freedom, who claims responsibility for inventing perestroika. Calling his trek a "metaphysical-existential-cosmic quest," Kalder can be terminally chatty and unfocused, but provides rare glimpses into the odd afterlife of a collapsed superpower.