The Other Shore focuses on a critical point in Soviet history. It deals with young Soviet intellectuals, bright but t brilliant, confronting a future threatened with war and stagnation, but still with the impetus of post-Stalinist regeneration. Rather than being a chronicle of the debates between neo-Bolsheviks, Leninists, social and liberal democrats, Trotskyists, Westernisers and traditionalists, it depicts a more modest but more frequently encountered search for commitment, for a meaningful political and social life, in a vast country where light and darkness flicker and alternate unpredictably. In hindsight, theirs may seem the twittering of cage birds, the self-delusion that came to terrible ruin twenty years later. The characters are aware that war or stagnation are ever-present shadows in their paths, but they press on, aware that their guides are shadowy and faltering, long-dead. It is the less grandiose, the less informed, struggles of the young Soviet citizens that seem more gripping and more hopeful. Although The Other Shore may be categorised as political fantasy, the real fantasy lies in the collapse of the aspirations which drove all the protagonists at the time. These aspirations seemed realistically held, and t unreasonably attainable. But the world they prefigured has, in the event, made them appear just wishful thinking. 'In Fraser's fiction the reader rides as on a switchback or luge of impetuous attention, with affects flashing by at virtuoso speeds. The characters seem to be unwitting agents of chaos, however much wise reflection Fraser bestows upon them; they move with shrugging self-assurance through circumstances as richly detailed and as without reliable compass-points as a Chinese scroll.' John Fuller
John Fraser has lived in Rome since 1980. Previously, he worked in England and Canada. The distinguished poet, novelist and Booker Prize nominee John Fuller has written of Fraser's fiction: One of the most extraordinary publishing events of the past few years has been the rapid, indeed insistent, appearance of the novels of John Fraser. There are few parallels in literary history to this almost simultaneous and largely belated appearance of a mature uvre, sprung like Athena from Zeus's forehead; and the novels in themselves are extraordinary. I can think of nothing much like them in fiction. Fraser maintains a masterfully ironic distance from the extreme conditions in which his characters find themselves. There are strikingly beautiful descriptions, veiled allusions to rooted traditions, unlikely events half-glimpsed, abrupted narratives, surreal but somehow apposite social customs. Fraser's work is conceived on a heroic scale in terms both of its ideas and its situational metaphors. If he were to be filmed, it would need the combined talents of a Bunuel, a Gilliam, a Cameron. Like Thomas Pynchon, whom in some ways he resembles, Fraser is a deep and serious fantasist, wildly inventive. The reader rides as on a switchback or luge of impetuous attention, with effects flashing by at virtuoso speeds. The characters seem to be unwitting agents of chaos, however much wise reflection the author bestows upon them. They move with shrugging self-assurance through circumstances as richly-detailed and as without reliable compass-points as a Chinese scroll.