Goodnight!

Abram Terts, Author, Abram Tertz, Author, Richard Lourie, Translator
Abram Terts, Author, Abram Tertz, Author, Richard Lourie, Translator Viking Books $22.95 (464p) ISBN 978-0-670-80165-7
Reviewed on: 11/28/1989
Release date: 12/01/1989
Soviet dissident Sinyavsky first published in the W e st as Tertz ( The Trial Begins ; A Voice from the Chorus ). For sending his fiction outside Russia for publication, he was tried and sentenced, in 1966, to prison camp and exile. He has lived in Paris since 1973, and is both an outspoken critic of Solzhenitsyn, calling him ``the founder of a new conformity of ideas,'' and a cynic about perestroika , which ``can be halted or overturned at any moment.'' This novel is a chronicle of the events that led to his trial, and as such it is a terrifying account of the surreal nature of Soviet justice. The writing has a persistent edge that survives translation intact. Thrown into a cell in Potma Transit Prison, the narrator notes that the single light bulb overhead ``seemed not to dispel the darkness but to reveal it.'' The book contains intense dialogues between an interrogator and a prisoner that are macabre and Kafkaesque in their inexorable logic. Why this is called a novel is unclear, although the absence of some pertinent details reveals the author's concern about protecting individuals still inside the U.S.S.R. Whether read as fiction or recent history, this is an important addition to literature of the gulag, a shrill cry that must be heard. (Dec.)
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