I, the author of Andropov’s Cuckoo,, was studying Russian in Leningrad in 1973, when I met an Asian lady and her friends. Her name was Youriko and we became instant friends, exactly as I describe it in the book. Everything in the chapters concerning that year in Leningrad is true: the Bibles, the letter from Viktor Feinberg, and the meeting with his son and the imposter.
There were other things too, which I did not put in this story; like the girl who took me home to meet her father. He gave me two icons, which he had ‘liberated’ from a church as the Red Army chased the Germans out of the country. He had been told to burn all religious artifacts, but he had rescued these two and he wanted them to go to a ‘good home’. Smuggling them out was scary, and I still have them.
When my term of study was over, I went returned to Portsmouth University and told people Youriko’s story, exactly as it is in this book. However, my girlfriend heard about it and one morning I awoke to the smell of burning paper. My girlfriend had set fire to Youriko’s pictures, address etc in the sink.
Therefore, I never saw her again, but I had told Youriko that I would be back the next summer for another term in Russia. What I did not know was that we would be in Kalinin not Leningrad. I did not see her that second year, or ever again, but the barman in the Evropayskaya Hotel did tell me that a Soviet woman had phoned several times asking for a man with my name.
Everything up to Youriko seeing me off is true, if I was there, or what she told me if I wasn’t. Therefore, her looking for me in the second year is dramatised; her move to the Crimea and her escape to the West are just wishful thinking.
I think about Youriko every week of my life and have done since I was nineteen. Youriko would be seventy-one now, if she is still alive.
I have been wanting to write Youriko’s story for forty-odd years, so I hope that you enjoyed it.
I added this afterword on the advice of a good friend, because, after reading the book, he was uncertain whether parts of it were actually true of not. I hope that this addition to the novel makes things clearer.