Siberian Education: Growing Up in a Criminal Underworld

Siberian Education: Growing Up in a Criminal Underworld

3.3 3
by Nicolai Lilin, Jonathan Hunt
     
 

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"Marvelous and Illuminating. . . . Forces us to reassess our notions of good and evil." —Irvine Welsh
In a contested, lawless region between Moldova and Ukraine known as Transnistria, a tightly knit group of “honest criminals” live according to strict codes of ritualized respect and fierce loyalty. In a voice utterly compelling and unforgettable

Overview

"Marvelous and Illuminating. . . . Forces us to reassess our notions of good and evil." —Irvine Welsh
In a contested, lawless region between Moldova and Ukraine known as Transnistria, a tightly knit group of “honest criminals” live according to strict codes of ritualized respect and fierce loyalty. In a voice utterly compelling and unforgettable, Nicolai Lilin, born and raised within this exotic subculture, tells the story of his moral education outside the bounds of “society” as we know it, where men uphold values with passion—and often by brute force.

Editorial Reviews

The New Yorker
“Lilin may have the birthright of a crook, but he has the eye of an anthropologist, and he trains it on the folkways of an outlaw subculture as ritualized and moralistic as any religion.”
Wall Street Journal
This is the Russian gangland recast as medieval Romance.
. . . Amid the depravity of its anti-heroes, Siberian Education paints a memorable world of anarchism, devotion,
humor and respect.— Toby Lichtig
Toby Lichtig - Wall Street Journal
“This is the Russian gangland recast as medieval Romance. . . . Amid the depravity of its anti-heroes, Siberian Education paints a memorable world of anarchism, devotion, humor and respect.”
Publishers Weekly
There's honor aplenty among the noble thieves in this glamorized memoir of post-Soviet gangster life. Lilin, a tattoo artist living in Italy, where this mafia-positive saga was a bestseller, grew up in the 1980s and '90s in a Transnistrian town (on the border of Ukraine and Moldova) settled by hereditary criminal clans exiled from Siberia. Their "Urka" subculture is thick indeed: switchblades are religious icons, elaborate tattoos depict criminal exploits, and a strict ethical code parses purification rituals and dietary rules. (Take note: an outlaw never accepts food from a cop's tainted hands.) There are gory rumbles—"to leave him a souvenir from Siberia, I cut the ligaments under his knee"—and lurid prison gang rapes, but Lilin paints the Urka underworld as the last stand of pious morality ("We didn't use swear words... we never talked disrespectfully about elderly persons") against Kremlin despotism and Western decadence. Many of his reminiscences, which contain "combined" characters, "condensed" events, and "imaginative recreations," have a distinctively Russian, folkloric tone: "how beautiful and generous Plum's soul was," Lilin writes of a friend who allegedly murdered 12,000 policemen over three decades. Factual or not, his portrait of high-minded banditry—"The exploitation of prostitution had always been considered an offense unworthy of a criminal"—never feels true to life. (Apr.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393342383
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
05/28/2012
Pages:
464
Sales rank:
714,292
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Nicolai Lilin grew up in Transnistria, which declared its independence from Russia in 1990 but has never been recognized as a state. His previous book, Siberian Education, was also a bestseller in Europe and has been made into a movie with John Malkovich. Lilin lives in Milan, where he has founded an art gallery called Kolima Contemporary Culture.

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Siberian Education: Growing Up in a Criminal Underworld 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
eheinlen More than 1 year ago
I didn't think I would like this book, but I was very wrong. I loved it. Not only was it easy-to-read, but the story was fascinating and the writing style was excellent. I definitely recommend this book. It's going to show you a side of society that we don't normally get to see.