Rolando Maxim was the best circus director of his time. What a pity that he died so many years ago. It was his decision to purchase La Madre Grandiosa – The Ape Woman – which led to Maxim's Circus becoming so famous. When his son, Gregor Maxim, looks round the circus camp, he can't escape the fact that it has declined. After a long winter during which they have tried to squeeze as many performances as possible out of the public in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, they suddenly find themselves weather bound. The cold is penetrating, the snow is drifting down and their reserves are running out.
One day they find a man lying unconscious. Gregor very reluctantly agrees to let his sister nurse him. Then things really begin to develop.
The story of Maxim's Circus is told in Gregor's cantankerous voice. We learn how La Madre Grandiosa came into the circus and how that changed the dynamics of Gregor's family and ended in disaster. We follow him while spectacular individualism confronts uniform bureaucracy, as he tries to rescue the remnants of a proud tradition in the face of the communist system. We hear the unconscious man's story of the labour camp and why he can't stand the sound of a banjo. And not least, we see humanity finding expression through the defining personalities of the characters – the characters of the circus.
Siv Wyller (1974–) has a master's degree in literature mediation, and has studied creative writing at the Norwegian Institute for Children's Books. She has previously been published in the short prose anthology Pilot. She lives in the countryside.