There is something about literature when it is not easy. It challenges the way you read demanding more concentration and in some cases more imagination to make the jumps that the author is demanding of you. There are also tests of memory that you will only pass if you have been really concentrating.
In some respects this book reminds me of Georges Perec with a bold idea being laid down from the start and time shifting backwards and forwards enough to confuse from the first paragraph.
In Lines of Fate the story that starts to emerge is of a student who is writing a dissertation on an overlooked author who spent most of his life in both exile and enforced exile. Having found most of his works and sketched a biography of his life the student Anton Lizavin has almost completed his studies on Simeon Milashevich.
But he then discovers that the author used to write scraps of thoughts on the back of sweet wrappers because he did not have access to paper. These bits of paper are half thoughts and in some cases appear to be directly addressed to Anton making his quest for the real Milashevich far from finished.
There are red herrings with double identities and different names being used to describe the same person and place and you feel that Kharitonov is having fun with the reader mostly at your own expense as you struggle to navigate through to a point where you feel you have some handle on the story.