The winner of the 1993 Russian Booker Prize for Baize-Covered Table with Decanter
, Vladimir Makanin is nonetheless not well known in the West. The release of Escape Hatch & The Long Road Ahead
should change that. This pair of novellas, both published in Russian in 1991, show Makanin to be a skillful and creative post-modernist whose work is rooted in both the tradition of the great masters of 19th-century Russian literature and the unique brand of Surrealism that grew out of the absurdities of life in the Soviet Union. While playing with the conventions of narrative and storytelling--as any good post-modernist must--Makanin grapples with moral choices and ethical dilemmas, as did all the great Russian writers who came before him.
From Publishers Weekly
Solzhenitsyn meets Kafka in two novellas of surreal bleakness that mark Makanin's U.S. debut. The first, "Escape Hatch," takes place in a city where society has broken down-through war, civil conflict, riot or perhaps just entropy-but a where a cafe-rich consumer society exists pleasantly-and literally-underground. Makanin's stoic everyman hero, Klyucharyov, survives as a refugee, a middleman between the ruined surface and the nostalgically normal bunker community connected by a secret shaft which, to his despair, begins to contract and close off. In the second novella, "The Long Road Ahead," both socialist realism and Brave New World-like dystopias are twisted in the story of a young engineer "on assignment" at a synthesized beef factory. The engineer's ethical shock at what really occurs at "point zero" on the assembly line is neatly interrupted by an account of a Soviet contemporary of the author's, whose schizophrenia is attuned to cruelty and injustice. Makanin's careful, gray style carries its own intensity, as in his depictions of Klyucharyov's claustrophobic tunneling or the gulag-slaughterhouse's "point zero" operations, forming an enigmatic post-Soviet voice. (May) FYI: Makanin won the Booker Russian Novel Prize in 1993 for Baize-covered Table with Decanter.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.