Siberia on Fire: Stories and Essays

Valentin Rasputin, Author, Margaret Winchell, Translator, Gerald Mikkelson, Translator Northern Illinois University Press $38 (230p) ISBN 978-0-87580-152-0
A major contemporary Soviet writer charts the terrain of his native Siberia. Rasputin's dazzling stories are sophisticated splicings of nonchronological episodes. Of special interest is ``The Fire,'' which analyzes the various types of chaos caused by political and social upheaval, and natural disasters, as well as their cost to the individual: ``A sensitive person . . . views himself not as a doctor would, seeing primarily organs fulfilling specific functions, but as the powerful, weak-willed sovereign of an immense, incomprehensible kingdom.'' The nonfiction here, however, is almost redundant, returning the aesthetic transformations of the stories to their factual roots. Rasputin's essays advocating preservation of Siberia's natural resources reveal his convictions but lack documentation and proposals for change; discussions of Soviet writers Vasily Shukshin and Aleksandr Vampilov will not engage the lay reader. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/28/1989
Release date: 12/01/1989
Paperback - 252 pages - 978-0-87580-547-4
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