Lost in the Taiga: One Russian Family's Fifty-Year Struggle for Survival and Religious Freedom in the Siberian Wilderness
For Russians who followed journalist Peskov’s visits to the Lykov family from 1982 to 1991, and now for Americans, Lost in the Taiga illuminates both the past and “the road not taken.” Crowded in cities, we read about the family’s decades of isolation in the Siberian wilderness. Surrounded by home appliances, we visit a household where, initially at least, matches were “not allowed.” Alienated and skeptical, we marvel at the strength of the family’s religious faith. For the Lykovs are Old Believers whose fundamentalist Russian Orthodox ancestors left the Ukraine for Siberia’s tundra in response to the seventeenth century’s Great Schism; the family moved deeper into the Abakan River Valley in the 1930s and 1940s as sectarian differences and disturbing contacts with secular society convinced patriarch Karp Osipovich that salvation could only be found far from the world. Rediscovered by geologists in 1978 and brought to their countrymen’s attention by Peskov’s reportage, the remaining Lykovs–Karp, in his final years, and younger daughter Agafia, now 50–build their fragile relationship with the outside world with thoughtful dignity. Schwartz offers a graceful translation of Peskov’s remarkable story, which celebrates the Lykovs’ threatened taiga wilderness as well as the powerful individuality of the members of this long-isolated family.