No Return

Alexander Kabakov, Author, Thomas Whitney, Translator, Aleksandr Kabakov, Author William Morrow & Company $15.95 (94p) ISBN 978-0-688-09978-7
It's easy to see why the publication of this dystopian novella caused a furor in Kabakov's native U.S.S.R. Set in the uncomfortably near future, this riveting chronicle is narrated by Yuri Illich, a scientific researcher known as a ``prognosticator''--a fancy name for time-traveler--whose trips to the Russian Union of Democratic Parties, the anarchic successor to perestroika , have come under increasing scrutiny by the KGB. Meanwhile, Gorbachev's reforms have failed and the economy has collapsed. The Soviet youth are addicted to benzene, and rival political factions are battling it out in Moscow. Ilich, who roams the streets of the future with an automatic assault rifle, finds himself in a sort of postmodern western. At one point he escapes decapitation by a member of a crazed fundamentalist group called The Revolutionary Committee of Northern Persia. At another, just barely avoiding being caught in the crossfire between some Afghanistan War veterans and the authorities, he stumbles on a corpse hanging by a chain from the window of a once popular hotel. Kabakov's prose seems somewhat wooden in his English-language debut, but the immediacy of his nightmarish tale and rapid-fire pacing make for engrossing reading. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1990
Release date: 10/01/1990
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