In Jennifer duBois's 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. With his renowned Cold War–era tournaments behind him, Aleksandr has turned to politics, 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. Certain she has inherited Huntington's disease—the same illness that ended her father's life—she struggles with a sense of purpose. 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.