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Glas New Russian Writing #56: Petroleum Venusby Alexander Snegirev
Synopses & Reviews
This is the tragicomic story of a successful young architect, Fyodor, the reluctant single father of an adolescent son with Down syndrome. The son is a terrible embarrassment to Fyodor, who relies on his own parents to take care of him. Fyodor has fraught relationship with them as well. But then a fatal car crash and the accidental discovery of a mystical painting, "Petroleum Venus," force this self-involved father to ultimately embrace his troubled son, his parents' moral values, and the real things in life.
Petroleum Venus won the Debut Prize, was shortlisted for the National Bestseller Prize, nominated for the Russian Booker, and sat on the www.ozon.ru bestseller list for a year.
"In his first novel in translation, Snegirev, part of a new generation of post-Soviet Russian writers, tells the story of Fyodor, an architect who is forced to give up his career to better raise Vanya, his 15 year-old son with Down Syndrome. Fyodor seems trapped in this life until Vanya discovers a nude painting at the scene of a fatal car accident, setting off a chain of events and coincidences that promise a fresh start for both father and son. Snegirev seems to want to place himself within the larger Russian tradition, but the novel's slavish dependence on narrative coincidence craves the epiphanic meaning, the revelation of grand design behind ostensible chance, that defines so much classic Russian literature. The saving grace of the novel turns out to be Snegirev's honest and courageous treatment of Vanya and Fyodor's relationship. Rarely sentimental and never treacly, Snegirev is not afraid to depict the frustrations and irritations of raising a disabled child. The moments when Fyodor voices his own regrets and doubts about his son, his belief that Vanya holds him back from full potential, are what truly stand out at the novel's conclusion. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Based on personal experience, this is the tragicomic story of a single father of a 14-year-old son with Down syndrome
About the Author
Alexander Snegirev: Alexander Snegirev, born 1980 in Moscow, has a degree in Political Science, but currently works in construction design.
Winner of the Debut Prize for his collected stories Russian Rhymes (2005). His short novel How We Bombed America was awarded the Crown Prize by the Russian Writers Union in 2007.
In 2009, Petroleum Venus was shortlisted for the National Bestseller Prize, nominated for the Russian Booker, and sat on the ozon.ru bestseller list for a year.
His next novel, Vanity, was named the best book of 2010.
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