GEMOSGetrenntes Erfassen Mit Optimalen Systemen (German: Separate Collecting With Optimal Systems)
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The hero of the novel, Yuri Gemo, a struggling writer from Soviet Chukotka who leaves his homeland to study at Leningrad State University, is easily recognizable as Yuri Rytkheu himself.
The novel depicts the tortuous path traveled, taking Gemo from youthful innocence and naivete to the debilitating cynicism inherent in the realization that his lack of talent or political connections can be offset by writing "correctly" about Soviet achievements in Chukotka.
As his family grows, Gemo finds himself under increasing pressure to write and publish more.
Rytkheu's autobiographical farewell to his Soviet self is presented almost like a detective story, with Yuri Gemo's "double," a retired Russian provincial newspaper editor, Georgi Neznamov (gemo and neznam- mean "unknown" in Chukchi and Russian respectively), revisiting the author's places of residence in St.
Gemo is continually drawn to the provincial newspaper where Neznamov supposedly worked, but no one seems to have ever heard of him.