2017

Olga Slavnikova, Author, Marian Schwartz, Translator
Olga Slavnikova, Author, Marian Schwartz, Translator Overlook $26.95 (414p) ISBN 978-1-59020-309-5
Paperback - 414 pages - 978-1-4683-0121-2
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-1-4683-0291-2
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-1-4683-0290-5
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Set a century after the Russian Revolution, this satirical political thriller, which won “the Russian Booker Prize” in 2006, follows the less than engaging adventures of a Russian gem cutter named Krylov and the consequences of his affair with a virtual stranger. Heavy-handed parody undercuts Slavnikona’s attempt to sound a warning about the future direction of Russia. For example, a few months after the U.S. president, Pamela Armstrong, perishes in a terrorist attack in Beirut, Armstrong’s image appears on a new $600 bill, and her biography, “which was published with lightning speed in every language,” emphasizes her having adopted “eighteen orphans of every existing skin color, from a Yakut as yellow as melted grease to a blue-black girl from Ghana.” Fantasy elements, like the disappearances related to a mountain spirit known as the Stone Maiden, may remind some of The Master and Margarita , but American readers should be prepared for a futuristic fable that falls far short of Bulgakov’s masterpiece. (Mar.)

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