We the living

Fri 30 June 2017 by Thejaswi Puthraya

After having been underwhelmed by Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead", I was reluctant to read another of her hyped books. "We the living" is set in the Soviet after the Czar was overthrown in a revolution.

Kira's family returns to Petrograd after being exiled by the revolutionaries. All family members struggle to fit into the 'new' society and shake off their bourgeois roots. Kira is a tough nut and she refuses to be cowed down by the hard life. She enrols into a polytechnic institute and hopes to become an engineer.

She runs into Leo, a man with a similar attitude and love blooms. A revolutionary, Andrei harbours feelings for Kira and both these tracks get more involved until Leo contracts tuberculosis and he has to be sent off to a sanatorium for treatment.

Leo comes back from his treatment only in body and is a totally changed person. He starts living brashly and opens up a black marketing trade. An investigation by Andrei lands Leo in jail. Upon hearing of Kira's love for Leo, Andrei has Leo released. But now he is torn apart by his party ideal and his love for Kira. How Kira, Leo and Andrei handle their internal conflicts is covered in the rest of the book.

The depiction of the post-Czar Soviet and the hardships faced by commoners (when the party members lavished) was an eye-opener.