...an unabashed, panoramic view of the landscape of human consciousness affected by time, place, faith, and faces ... Lisa Hayden’s translation reads beautifully and carries the poignancy well ... In the vein of Dostoyevsky, religion here is not an enemy to be vanquished, but rather a consolation and a means of deciphering the mechanisms of the human mind and the world—seen and unseen ... Draped in thoroughly Russian trappings, The Aviator speaks to common experience while soaring into realms that enfold the human drama below.
Vodolazkin does not spare us the gruesome particulars: the groans of the dying, the stench of the seasick. The Aviator is filled with scenes like this: intense flashes of lived experience, crisply focused, rich in sensory detail ... The Aviator is not verbose, but it certainly wears its ideas on its sleeve, and the arc of the narrative is as simple and clever as a philosopher’s parable. But this is also a deeply emotional book, and often it is these probing questions that give human depth to the characters ... The Aviator is a quietly radical novel.
...[an] engaging new novel ... Those familiar with twentieth-century Russian history will delight in the swirl of memories that emerge over the course of the narrative ... The Aviator has been ably translated by Lisa Hayden. The novel will hold special appeal for those with an interest in Russian history and for fans of literary mysteries.