Tuesday, August 3, 2010
What do we really know about Siberia? What is there to know,other than the fact that it constitutes three fourths of contemporary Russia? Is Siberia a place or a state of exile and disenfranchisement? Ian Frazier's 2009 New Yorker articles, Travels in Siberia, seems to suggest that a massive road trip across its massive expanse will shed some light on the problem. According to Frazier, Siberia is made up of the following: permafrost, 4600 miles of taiga, eight time zones,mud and dust, massive but lazy rivers, the remote Sakhalin Island, Lake Baikal, the Arctic, the Urals, Vladivostock, 400 year old cities, 38 million people, Russians and aboriginal peoples, 5,771 miles of the Trans-Siberian Railway, prisons, military outposts, Chinese borderlands, refineries, concrete architecture, mosquitos,Admiral Kolchak beer, Irkutsk, memories of Rasputin, Lenin, Mandelstam, Stalin, and the Decembrists (e.g., Volkonsky and Trubetskoy) and raw materials, especially cobalt, zinc, oil, gold, diamonds, copper, lead, mercury, and nickel. It's also home to travel writers.