cover image Red Pyramid and Other Stories

Red Pyramid and Other Stories

Vladimir Sorokin, trans. from the Russian by Max Lawton. NYRB Classics, $18.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-68137-820-6

The Sorokin renaissance continues after Telluria with a vital selection of the Russian enfant terrible’s best shorts. The earliest entries depict the U.S.S.R. in the 1980s. “Passing Through” portrays factory overseers taking profane revenge on government propagandists, while in “Obelisk,” a mother and daughter from the countryside debut their scatological double-act in the city of Bryansk. The centerpiece, “Nastya,” is the story of a girl who, on her 16th birthday, is cooked and eaten by her family and assorted priests and czarists as they discuss philosophy. The ribald and visceral madness continues in “Horse Soup,” in which an émigré to Moscow is made to eat for a wealthy man’s sexual gratification, and “Tiny Tim,” which features two women discussing the joys of anal sex and the wonders of owning a hamster. In “Violent Swans,” an honored general contemplates nuclear annihilation via a missile named Satan, and, in the title story, a mysterious red pyramid conjured by Lenin appears over Red Square, threatening cataclysm. As astute as they are provocative, these stories are an ideal introduction to the prolific and fearless Sorokin. (Feb.)