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Other titles in the Glas New Russian Writing series:
Glas New Russian Writing #40: War & Peace: Contemporary Russian Proseby Natasha Perova
Synopses & Reviews
WAR. Army problems are currently much debated in Russian society. There is a vast online library of army stories but publishers are reluctant to print them since their exposure of the real situation in the army, particularly in the Caucasus, would anger the authorities. The overarching message of these stories is that any war inevitably sows hatred among otherwise peaceful people.
Arkady Babchenko's Argun, an autobiographical account of life as an ordinary young soldier in Russia's Chechnya war, takes the raw and mundane reality of army life and twists it into compelling, chilling, and eerily beautiful prose.
Denis Butov's Five Days of War plunges you into the midst of fierce fighting and a miraculous salvation from sure death. His How Dreams Don't Come True is about an ex-serviceman's inability to reintegrate into peaceful life after his army stint in Chechnya.
Dmitry Bykov's Christ depicts the army as a harsh male world with crude practices and sadistic hazing that drives young men to suicide and insanity.
Roman Senchin's story, 24 Hours relates the events of one day in his bleak existence as a border guard. He depicts vividly the soldiers' longing for discharge.
Julia Latynina exposes corrupt administrations in the Caucasus. They openly disregard the law in order to maintain their totalitarian rule, but they also have to comply with the local mafia lords and rebel chieftains.
PEACE. Women's stories are a sharp contrast to the "War" section. They immerse you in the world of basic human values such as love, children, and family; but also highlight problems with aging, generation gap, and violence against women. The stories reflect the current stage in the evolution of Russian women's fiction which displays confident craftsmanship, wide thematic range, and high stylistic standards.
Olga Slavnikova's The Secret of the Unread Note paints a vivid portrait of a small provincial town where a very average, modern, young woman still yearns for love and tries various ways of getting it.
In Maria Galina's End of the Summer the mysterious appearance of a little clairvoyant girl wreaks havoc on the leisurely life of a childless couple. The wife's longing for motherhood turns out to be stronger than her love for her husband.
Maria Rybakova looks at the eternal drama of aging in her fine psychological narrative A Sting in the Flesh in which an old lady inadvertently kills the emerging love between two young people.
Maria Arbatova's The Last Letter conveys the modern woman's rebellion against the traditional dependency implicit in male-female relationships.
Marina Kulakova's story Alive Again investigates the psychology of the rapist and the victim as well as showing the roots of such phenomena and the public's indifference to the problem.
Army stories versus women's stories show that peace is in fact almost as dangerous as war.
Army stories (War) versus women's stories (Peace) make a compelling portrait of post-post-perestroika Russia. The message is that any war inevitably sows hatred among otherwise peaceful people.
The women's stories immerse you in the world of basic human values but also aging, the generation gap, and violence against women.
About the Author
Arkady Babchenko, born in 1977, lives in Moscow. Winner of the Debut Prize for his cycle of first-hand accounts of the Chechnya campaign which is both a fictionalized documentary and narrative non-fiction. Babchenko was drafted from Law School and sent to Chechnya after a brief course of training. On discharge he finished his education and wrote a cycle of graphic stories about his war experiences so as "to get the war out of my system". Currently he works as a journalist on the opposition paper Novaya Gazeta. His book Alkhan-Yurt came out in Russian in 2006. His book "A Soldier's War in Chechnya" was published in 14 countries including by Grove Atlantic in the USA.
Dmitry Bykov, born in 1967, is the author of several prize-winning futuristic novels and alternative histories invariably inspiring heated debates in the press. He is also a noted poet, TV presenter, journalist, and author of the definitive new biography of Boris Pasternak. His major novel Living Souls was published in English in 2010.
Roman Senchin, born in 1971 in Tuva, Siberia. Later, because of the riots in Tuva, the family had to flee to Minusinsk where he lived until recently before moving to Moscow. Winner of several prestigious literary prizes he is one of the most talented and expressive spokesmen for his generation. His work has been translated into German, French and other languages. Senchin's writings give you information that cannot be found in guidebooks.
Julia Latynina, born in 1966, a Muscovite, comes from a famous literary family. She is a topmost business journalist, with a Ph.D. in Economics and Philology, and is a prolific writer widely known for her "economic" thrillers and futuristic fantasies - more than 20 titles in all. By wrapping fiction around facts and real people, she can tell the real story behind Russia's often misleading appearance. "When it comes to interpreting the Russian economy, Latynina is, to borrow Isaiah Berlin's term, both a fox and a hedgehog, and that is what makes her books so fascinating." (Globe and Mail)
Olga Slavnikova, a leading name in Russian letters today, rose to fame as a writer back in her hometown of Yekaterinburg in the Urals before moving to Moscow five years ago to coordinate the Debut Prize for young writers. She is the author of five prize-winning novels and is noted for her highly individual style and psychological depth. Her Booker prize-winning novel 2017 came out in English in 2010.
Maria Galina, born in 1960, is a poet, critic, translator, and science fiction writer with ten SF books to her credit. A graduate from Odessa University majoring in marine biology she took part in several sea expeditions. She has been a professional writer since 1995. She has won many prizes for both her prose and poetry. Her fiction contains a strong element of magic realism while gender issues have always been the focus of her attention.
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