Talking Wine, Russia, and Writing with Amor Towles

Amor Towles/Image © David Jacobs

Good food and wine are near and dear to the heart of Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, the protagonist of A Gentleman in Moscow. Amor Towles’s new book, which follows his debut bestseller, Rules of Civility, trades the glamour of 1920s New York City for a hotel in Moscow. The book spans thirty years and traces events from the Russian Revolution through the Cold War – with all the upheaval outside of the hotel, the luxurious Metropol manages to stay mostly the same, dishing up tasty meals and culture in equal parts. The Count is sentenced to house arrest within its walls, but manages to make the best of things, partly due to his natural optimism and partly because he finds new purpose serving and helping to prepare the sumptuous dinners he loves.

In this Beaks & Geeks interview with Towles, he confesses that he doesn’t know a great deal about wine, even though he enjoys it. He enlisted the help of his oenophile brother-in-law to decide which wines to include in his novel. Listen to the podcast to hear what surprised the author about his research, the unexpected freedom in writing constraints, and more about the lovable Count.

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