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Ian Frazier explores the lure of Siberia

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Ian Frazier
Ian Frazier admits to a bad case of what's known as "Russia Love," the name given to an obsession afflicting some travelers. His particular love affair is with Siberia.
MPR photo/Euan Kerr

For almost 20 years writer Ian Frazier has been obsessed by a place which many people use as a metaphor for unpleasantness: Siberia. 

Admittedly he's had some unpleasant experiences during his five trips there, but it's inspired him to write at length about the place, its history, even its name.

Frazier has collected his writings, many of them for the New Yorker magazine, in a new book called "Travels in Siberia." 

His account includes stories of extreme heat, horrible insects, and terrible cold. He endured months of uncomfortable travel in the back of a van, hair-raising trips in bush planes and helicopters, and drank a tremendous amount of tea and vodka.

The book also includes details of Russian history, good and bad, and an affectionate exploration of the Russian character. 

Frazier told Euan Kerr he is regularly asked why, of all places, Siberia? 

He's still unsure how to answer.