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“I, Putin” by Jennifer Ciotta: an Insight into the Character of the Russian President

Vladimir Putin is a fascinating figure who inspires both awe and hatred in people from all over the world, including Russia. There can be endless discussions on whether he’s a good guy or a bad guy, but there is no doubt that he is an extremely talented politician and a born leader. And he is definitely a fascinating subject for a writer to write about.

Until recently there was no way a reader could get an insight into Putin’s life and character from the non-Russian point of view. Jennifer Ciotta, the author of  a new novel called “I, Putin” provides the readers with that experience. And, despite the novel being a work of fiction, I believe that the perception of the Russian President’s way of thinking is very close to the real thing.

First of all, I need to emphasize that “I, Putin” is a work of fiction. Yes, it’s based on real events, but a lot of things in the novel are made up. For example, life never was that dreadful in the USSR – tomatoes were available and all education was free of charge. So Putin getting a scholarship is something that was designed to make the Soviet reality more understandable by American readers. Similarly, Yeltsin wasn’t a drunk to that extent. In fact, he didn’t drink at all after he had a heart surgery. Instead, he was on drugs that had a side effect and altered the way he talked, making him sound drunk. In any case, all the exaggerations and grotesque bits are used by Ciotta for the purpose of highlighting Putin’s character traits. She tries to show why he developed in the way he did and why he had the motives he had.

The story concentrates on the tragedy with the submarine “Kursk”. The submarine drowned in the Barents Sea in summer 2000. None of the crew survived. The way Ciotta builds her storyline and describes the events of that summer make you believe that this is exactly how everything happened. That Putin thought the exact words Jennifer wrote. That the submarine crew suffered and died exactly how the author describes it. The story is vivid and  keeps the reader captured until the end. The amount of research must have been massive and the end result is amazing. The novel is about Putin going through very hard times, but at the same time it’s about Russia, the Russian people and the Russian mentality. Ciotta understands it very well and does a great job at showing the world the way Russian people think.

“I, Putin” is a novel that resembles the Russian President in many ways. It’s controversial in many ways, yet a lot of the things deserve nothing but admiration. As a result, many people will love it and a lot of people will hate it. But no doubt it’s a work by a very talented writer who does her research properly and knows how to keep her readers wanting to read more.

“I, Putin” is available on Amazon.com as a Kindle version for $2.99. A paperback version will be released in April 2012.