Irina Ellison inherits a degenerative neurological disease from her father. In his papers, she also finds a 25-year-old unanswered letter which he once had sent to the young chess prodigy and political dissident, Aleksandr Bezetov. The letter leads her to venture to Russia to ask the question: When you find yourself playing a game or match or tournament that you’ve known all along you were losing, what is the way to proceed? What story do you tell yourself?
This beautiful and often humorous novel explores the experience of odd comrades struggling to find purpose against the inexorable persistence of loss and death. It tells of enduring love, hope despite the denial of dreams, and resistance against an unconquerable government and an incurable disease. Partial History of Lost Causes spans the divisions created by time and national borders and speaks to the depths of the human experience.