Living Souls

Overview

A wide-ranging Russian novel dealing with the ideas of language, power, and national identity, this comic and thought-provoking work has tremendous relevance to the present day

In a world a few decades from now, Russia has descended into a farcical civil war. With an extreme right-wing cult in power, racial tensions have divided the country into the Varangians—those who consider themselves to be the original Aryan settlers of Russia—and the Khazars, the ...

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Overview

A wide-ranging Russian novel dealing with the ideas of language, power, and national identity, this comic and thought-provoking work has tremendous relevance to the present day

In a world a few decades from now, Russia has descended into a farcical civil war. With an extreme right-wing cult in power, racial tensions have divided the country into the Varangians—those who consider themselves to be the original Aryan settlers of Russia—and the Khazars, the liberals and Jews driven out of Moscow by recent events. Morale has reached an all-time low as the brutality and pointlessness of the situation is becoming more and more apparent. What is left of the fighting now revolves around capturing and recapturing Degunino, a seemingly magical village with an abundance of pies, vodka, and accommodating womenfolk. But there is also a third people—timid, itinerant, and on the brink of extinction—who lay claim to Degunino and Russia as their homeland. Against this rich backdrop of events, this story follows the lives of four couples struggling to escape the chaos and stupidity of the war around them: a teenage girl who adopts a homeless man, a poet turned general separated from his lover, a provincial governor in love with one of the natives, and a legendary military commander who is sleeping with the enemy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Blending a novel of ideas with a fairy-tale and satire with lyricism, Bykov in Living Souls gives a picture of Russia in the near future and—as so many others before him—tries to understand the eternal contradictions of his country."  —Independent

"A dreamscape, a panoramic survey of the obsessions and illusions that protect Russian society's sleep."  —Times Literary Supplement

"Beautifully translated and edited."  —Washington Post on The Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy

"Boykov stirs countless scholarly and pseudo-scholarly retellings of stories about race, religion, culture and geography, many of them toxic, into a comical fictional potion...Boykov has reminded a nation that among its most precious resources are the Russian language and its literature." — New York Review of Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781846881268
  • Publisher: Alma Books
  • Publication date: 10/1/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 550
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Dmitry Bykov is the author of five novels and a biography of Pasternak, and a winner of the 2007 Big Book Prize and the National Bestseller Prize. He writes for various literary publications, hosts a weekly radio show, and appears regularly on Russian television. Cathy Porter is the translator of The Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy.

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