Based on the life of Russian scientist, inventor and spy Lev Termen, the story takes us from the glitz and glam of New York in the 1930s to the gulags and scientific camps of the Soviet Union. Termen is imprisoned on a ship going to the Soviet Union. He is writing a letter to Clara Rockmore, the finest theremin player in the world. From there we learn Termen's story: his early days as a scientist in Leningrad, and the acclaim he received as the inventor of the theremin, eventually coming to New York under the aegis of the Russian state. There he stays, teaching eager music students, making his name, and swiftly falling in love with Clara. But it isn't long until he has fallen in with Russian spooks, slipping through the shadows of a budding Cold War, with cold-blooded results. Termen returns to Russia, where he is imprisoned in a Siberian gulag and later brought to Moscow, tasked with eavesdropping on Stalin himself. Bestseller. Winner of the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize. 2014.