Set in the early days of the Russian Revolution, Tarabas tells the story of Nicholas Tarabas, a young revolutionary ignominiously dispatched from St Petersburg to New York by his outraged family. During a visit to Coney Island's amusement park, the deeply superstitious Tarabas learns from a gypsy that it is his destiny to be both a murderer and a saint and, following a fight with a local cafe owner, he flees back to Russia as war with Austria is declared. Following his rapid promotion to army Captain, Tarabas gains a fearful reputation amongst his soldiers and the local villagers, until a miraculous discovery unleashes a chain of events that see him undergo a final, dramatic transformation. It is Roth s special gift that, in Tarabas's fulfilling of his tragic destiny, the larger movements of history find their perfect expression in the fate of one man.
Joseph Roth (1894-1939) was the great elegist of the cosmopolitan, tolerant and doomed Central European culture that flourished in the dying days of the Austrian Empire. He wrote thirteen novels, including Job and The Radetszky March. Much of his work has been published in English by Granta.