In October 1993, Jim McIntyre spent five days trapped inside his Moscow apartment while tens of thousands of pro-parliament demonstrators marched in the streets below, protesting against Boris Yeltsin’s economic reforms.
The clash came to a bloody head and 147 people died in the 10-day conflict. Army tanks rolled through the streets surrounding Moscow’s White House. Jim recalls the moment the TV stations went off air. From his window he could see the city smoking like burnt toast.
Back in Williamstown, Jim wrote his novel Nikolai the Perfect – a book that has taken him the best part of 30 years to complete.
Interestingly, next year marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of The Soviet Union.
Set in Moscow and Melbourne, Nikolai the Perfect explores the fractured relationships between a father and son and man and wife, devastating loss, upheaval, secrets, hope and forbearance.
Jim’s distinctive and arresting writing style has been endorsed by the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, awarding him runner-up for unpublished manuscript in 2015. In superb language and rich, literary accomplishment, Jim has threaded his life experiences into this wonderful tale that spans the chaotic aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union.
As the storyline opens, Muscovites are exhausted by scarcity and political uncertainty.
Married young to enigmatic Anna, Vassili is the unworldly son of tyrannical Sergey and subjugated Teresa. Pressured by his father and alone, Vassili takes a teaching post in Melbourne, repeating his father’s history. Before departing Sergey gives Vassili a small package he is to deliver to a woman called Helen. It contains a secret. Will the truth blow the family apart?
Compared to Moscow, Vassili finds Melbourne sure of itself. He must navigate between his culturally defined personality and this unfamiliar setting – before Anna’s arrival, and with her through their pregnancy. Readers share Anna’s unresolved childhood trauma and yearn for her to find contentment.
Dealing with the contents of the package, Vassili must grow beyond his parents’ stifling politics.
Well-known Williamstown resident of more than 36 years, Jim is a social worker for the Russian Ethnic Representative Council. His focus on his writing life has taken him through many experiences, as a Russian-English bilingual freelancer and translator, education agent, overdub film narrator, drug and alcohol counsellor, aged care social worker, cricket coach – even a harvest hand.
Nikolai the Perfect is a rich, literary accomplishment. This is a dedicated writer, committed to his craft.