Around the core life story of Daniel Stein, Ludmila Ulitskaya skilfully assembles a montage of other personal stories. Some are presented through extensive correspondence, others as brief glimpses. There is a wide disparate set of characters, and the chronology is rather haphazard, which can sometimes be confusing. Nevertheless, in this mirage of snippets, Ulitskaya successfully conveys insight into how people encountered and responded to major social event, as well as minor everyday personal relationship. She includes deep and meaningful characterisation of the Jewish diaspora in Russia, Poland, Lithuania, and the US. Nazi atrocities and the Jewish/Arab conflict are rendered poignantly from detailed personal perspective. Daniel Stein incarnates the Jewish/Christian synthesis, and noble human values. He is the Christ motif of the account. He knows the Pope, forgives the Nazi, embraces the needy, but is eventually denounced by the institution when he challenges its dogma. His work collapses with his death, but we hope that his values live on.