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Paranoia: A Novel Paperback – March 31, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Emerging from the authoritarian nation of Belarus and written originally in Russian by a now-exiled novelist and activist, Paranoia is a satire of and attack on that very thinly disguised regime. In limning a society in which the most minute behavior is investigated and reported upon by the authorities, Martinovich mixes narrative with governmental “reports.” Inside the framework of a repressive society is a romance between the writer Anatoly and his beloved Elisaveta. The surveillance files describing their most intimate actions and bedroom conversations are given in deadpan, Soviet-style bureaucratese while what is actually being described is basically a love affair. It is Martinovich’s contribution that he parallels the commonplace but painful paranoia of love (i.e., jealousy) and the frighteningly appropriate paranoia of life in a harsh dictatorship. If the novel is at times strained, Martinovich can be excused a heavy hand in dealing with a regime that rules with an iron fist. Scholarly prefatory material provides needed context. --Mark Levine

Review

"Victor Martinovich is a funny writer…the novel is as hilarious a send up of modern Belorussian tyranny as one can expect. Why is probably why the book was banned upon its release and Martinovich is now living in exile." —Russian Life
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press; Tra edition (March 31, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810128764
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810128767
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,079,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved it, it was hard to put down. Great execution by the author, a proper novel with attention to all details. This is a psychological fiction, you do get a sense of paranoia when reading the book. All the subtle details are neatly arranged into the correct places for you to draw the conclusions and to get a sense of the setting, characters, what they think is going on and what is really going on. This is not a light a easy reading where you can skip pieces, rather, this is a saturated full-flavor reading, and is more rewarding the more the reader pays attention. I like the author's sense of humor. I would buy and read all of his other books, should they be translated into English. I could see how is a couple of places the English reader might have to read a passage more than once in order to really get what is being relayed, and I attribute that to the difficulties of translation, since local color is not always easily translatable. I still think that the translator has done a marvelous job, so kudos to Diane Nemec Ignashev! Now, I agree with the other comment that it is very honest and very realistic, and you have to understand that any romance is restricted in the frames of its setting. Trust the book when you are reading it, and trust your feeling about what you are reading. It is not always about what is explicitly said, but rather what is implied, and I can see that the author has put a lot of thought and effort into leading the reader is the right direction, and I think he has done a fantastic job. It's not wonder the author got an Encouragement Award for the best debut from the European Science Fiction society.
It is too bad the the page scarcely mentions anything about the author himself. Besides being a writer, he is a journalist and a professor. Also, it is interesting that in his country of origin, when a new book of his goes into print, it is sold out almost right away.
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By Anon on February 4, 2014
Format: Paperback
It gave a good perspective into the dystopian state of Belarus, and the forward was very helpful in clearing up the background of the novel, but the romance was not always very believable. Also, the perspectives switched a lot, which on one hand contributed to the sense of paranoia of the novel, but on the other, made things very confusing.
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Format: Paperback
Victor Martinovich is a funny writer. Funny not in a Douglas Adams sort of way. More like George Orwell or Aldous Huxley. Not “ha ha,” more like “hm.”

This novel is a love tragedy. But, since it takes place in totalitarian Belarus (Martinovich’s home is not mentioned, but that’s where we are), it’s really a bizarre love triangle, between the protagonist Anatoly, a writer, Elisaveta, a woman whom Anatoly meets in a café, and the State, which, given its jealous totalitarian-ness, must monitor even the most mundane and intimate moments of the couple’s lives.

The story’s narrative alternates with intelligence reports or transcripts that are pitch perfect in their dry reportage, and on the whole the novel is as hilarious a send up of modern Belorussian tyranny as one can expect. Why is probably why the book was banned upon its release and Martinovich is now living in exile.

[As reviewed in Russian Life magazine.]
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Format: Paperback
Very realistic Belarusian love-story. Very scary, very honest and very realistic. KGB & love -- mission impossible?...
I would definitely love to make a movie on a book like this.
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