top of page

The White Dove of Córdoba


The total printing 250,000 copies

This gripping art forgery crime drama propels through epochs and countries (Spain in the 17th century, Leningrad under siege and in the end of the 1970ies, the Ukrainian pre-war and post-war Vinnitsa, modern Vatican, Jerusalem, Toledo and Córdoba in Spain) to tell a spelling and dramatic story of a genius artist and to make yet another attempt to find an answer to eternal bitter conflicts of destiny vs man’s will, a family’s history and a person’s solitude, the Jewish devotion to land and fascination with the nation’s (and a family’s) history vs the spacious lavishness and negligence of the Russian soul.

An unrivalled art forger, touched by a true genius, an engaging intellectual, Zakhar Cordovin is not another hero in the line of greatest perpetrators in the criminal art scene. Impudent and passionate equally about love, life and art, Cordovin has to pay the highest price for his own crimes, but also dramas and mysteries permeating the centuries-long history of the Jewish-Spanish family of the Cordoveras.

Born in the post-war Ukrainian Vinnitsa, Zakhar Cordovin studied art in Leningrad, spent a few years in Stockholm, and now lectures on art in the University of Jerusalem and roams all over Europe chasing obscure art works that he will revive and sell for lavish sums of money, having attributed to the greatest masters of the past. On one of his European trips Cordovin spots an old painting that he immediately identifi es as belonging to one of El Greco’s pupils. A troubling re-semblance of the artist’s name – Zacarias Cordovera – with his own, fascinates Cordovin, but he is also haunted with the image of a saint depicted in the portrait and certain details revealed during the restoration.

A brilliantly concocted forgery scheme culminates with a millions-worth sale of “a previously unknown El Greco painting” to Vatican. Yet Cordovin sets off on his personal investigation of the true story of the painting that eventually brings him to Córdoba and puts face to face with his family’s tragic past. This sweeping chase after phantoms and mysteries of his family intertwines with the criminal story from Cordovin’s student years in Leningrad. Back then his involvement into a criminal art scene resulted in a brutal murder of his close friend, challenging him years later with a no-option choice of a murder in revenge. It is in Córdoba that Zakhar Cordovin pulls all links into one deadly knot and finds the only solution to recoup the tragic mistakes and betrayals that he had once committed.

Dina Rubina does an amazing job of composing a breathtaking thrilling story set against the international shadow world of art forgers, art dealers and gross money deals. With a sure hand she draws a vivid panorama of countries, landscapes and art – to an irrevocable effect: readers immediately fall in love with this finely concocted and re-produced world and with the text itself. In the broadest gallery of genuine characters – immigrants, provincials, weirdos and straightforward lunatics, intellectuals, art experts, poets, criminals of various ranks and sorts, art dealers and artists – there is no chance appearance.

Each character has a unique voice that tells his story – be it a whimsical Cordovin’s aunt Zhuka in Leningrad; or a grouchy uncle Sema in the Ukrainian Vinnitsa; or Margo, an uproarious partner in their art scam; or the dearest childhood friend Andryusha, an involuntary victim of Cordovin’s bashful art crime… Dina Rubina’s prose is unsentimental, but is full of genuine sympathy towards her characters, sympathy and love.

Book details


Novel, 2009

544 pp

Rights sold

  • German Pereprava

  • Lithuanian Nordina

  • Ukrainian Bogdan-Ternopol

  • Polish Muza

  • Estonian Tänapäev

  • Latvian Janis Roze

  • Albanian Ombra

  • Czech Republic Columbus

  • Turkish Alfa Kitap

  • Bulgarian Labyrinth

  • Simplified Chinese Shandong Publishing House

  • Hebrew Keter

Literary awards

  • Finalist of the Russian Prize 2010

bottom of page