Siberiaby Nikolai Maslov
In 2000, Nikolaï Maslov, a night watchman and self-taught artist, asked Emmanuel Durand, a French book salesman in Moscow, to look at three panels from a graphic novel he had drawn. Stunned by the intensity of the work, Durand offered Maslov a modest advance to quit his job and finish the book. The result is this extraordinary visual portrayal of Russian life… See more details below
In 2000, Nikolaï Maslov, a night watchman and self-taught artist, asked Emmanuel Durand, a French book salesman in Moscow, to look at three panels from a graphic novel he had drawn. Stunned by the intensity of the work, Durand offered Maslov a modest advance to quit his job and finish the book. The result is this extraordinary visual portrayal of Russian life and spirit.
Awash in alcohol from the first pages to the last, Siberia charts Maslov’s bleak path through the labyrinths of the Soviet system, from the desolate Siberian countryside, to military service with the Red Army in Mongolia, to the psychiatric hospital where he was admitted after his brother’s death. Drawn entirely in pencil on paper, the book’s nuanced gray tones document with unremitting clarity and delicate nuance the austere Siberian landscape, the bad vodka, the daily brawls, the cynicism and violence of life in Siberia, but also the perseverance and hope of those in this often neglected but fascinating part of the world.
In 1996, Moscow's Pangloss bookstore had just gotten in the Russian translation of the French comics series Astérix. A man who seemed like a Siberian peasant looked around for a bit and then approached the bookseller. He'd started a comic about his own life, and he asked if the bookseller would finance his finishing it. Yes, indeed, and Siberia was first published in France as Une jeunesse soviétique. Few graphic novels have come to the West from Russia, and this one offers a fresh and lyrically disquieting view behind news stories and facades for tourists. Growing up in a tiny Siberian village, young Nikolaï joins his peers in drinking, fighting, and construction work. Then comes a Kafkaesque stint in the Red Army, a series of jobs, and a mental breakdown. Throughout, Nikolaï keeps drawing, attending art school for a while, and even working for a gallery where the big sales are in portraits of Lenin. His soft, nuanced pencils render the calm sweeps of countryside, parties awash in vodka, and meaningless military rituals of his stark and troubling life with surprising sophistication, given his minimal exposure to graphic narrative models. Unfortunately, the translation omits glosses for most signs and other background text. For older teens up and a required purchase for university and most public libraries.
- Soft Skull Press, Inc.
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 8.10(w) x 11.50(h) x 0.30(d)
- Age Range:
- 14 Years
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