In this mesmerizing and exquisitely rendered debut novel, a long-lost letter links two characters, each searching for meaning against long odds. In St. Petersburg, Russia, world chess champion Aleksandr Bezetov begins a quixotic quest, launching a doomed — and potentially lethal — dissident presidential campaign against Vladimir Putin. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, thirty-year-old English lecturer Irina Ellison is on an improbable quest of her own. When Irina finds an old, photocopied letter her father had written to the young Aleksandr Bezetov — asking how one proceeds in a lost cause — she decides to travel to Russia to find Bezetov and get an answer for her father, and for herself. Spanning two continents and thirty years, and with uncommon perception and wit, A Partial History of Lost Causes explores the possibilities of courage, the endurance of memory, and the stubbornness and splendor of human will.
Jennifer duBois was born in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1983. She earned a B.A. in political science and philosophy from Tufts University and an M.F.A. in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She recently completed a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University, where she is currently the Nancy Packer Lecturer in Continuing Studies. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Playboy, The Missouri Review, The Kenyon Review, The Florida Review, The Northwest Review, Narrative, and elsewhere.