ELKOST International Literary Agency

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Manikin and the Saints

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RIghts sold to: Russia - RIPOL

Finalist of the 2017 NOS literary award
Shortlisted for the 2017 National Bestseller Award

Short and hilariousely funny novel, Andrey Filimonov's Manikin and the Saints is set in the forgotten Siberian village of Pathlessness that survived the Soviet period only to be scheduled for liquidation once its residents remind the world of their existence. It has been nominally monitored by Manikin, a bumbling policeman whose punishment was to have a hand cut off and be dispatched to Pathlessness to represent the powers that be. Manikin and his wife, Cabbage Core, fit nowhere: they're damaged goods in the outside world and outsiders in the world of the village, yet they side with the villagers against the senseless manipulations of the distant central authority they ostensibly represent. The villagers are loafers and connivers, yet their hearts are as broad as the taiga and they exemplify that indescribably, unmistakably Russian brand of can-do spirit. One doesn't know whether to mourn these folk as lost souls or admire them as holy saints.

The story takes place on three levels: the mythic fable of the founding of the native Siberian tribe that originally inhabited what would, much later, become the Soviet village Pathlessness; the magical realism of the village Pathlessness and its inhabitants; and the social satire of the worldly Russian journalist who agrees to act as guide to a Polish priest who travels to the village in search of the relics of two nuns martyred there in Stalin's time (these being only the most obvious candidates for the "saints" of the book's title).

The levels merge seamlessly in images and characters such as the villager Seven, who doesn't believe in the world outside the village; Filimonov has remarked that Seven's illogical belief is "a familiar feeling. We also spent a long time living in the Soviet period in a completely closed space, and we imagined but poorly how the outside world looked."

But on the other hand, pathlessness is also a kind of salvation for certain people. This is a story about how (to quote the novel) it's not that easy to find that place. It can be way over there, or right here. A place like that could be anywhere. And it's a story about a road that has a social meaning: the road exists in order to monitor people. Because the bosses can use it to find them. But the people live by and for themselves, and they have absolutely no need to be found.

Filimonov's ear for dialogue, vivid blend of the sacred and the profane, and unflinching exploration of historical and emotional trauma juxtapose with fireworks of bawdy, witty humor to make this book a journey readers won't soon forget.

Praise for Andrey Filimonov's Manikin and the Saints

Manikin and the Saints is a marvelous little example of magical realism. A method originally created back in the day by Latin American mages to describe their sleepy southern hamlets turns out to be tailor-made to describe backwater Siberian villages. Because it’s not the climate that’s the thing here, it’s the relationship to reality. Rather, it’s reality’s relationship to man.  -- Mikhail Viesel, critic, journalist, and translator

What is this? Intellectual prose? Sure, as long as you don’t interpret this concept as a genre definition. A phantasmagoria? Absolutely, but not one that goes outside the boundaries of our everyday lives. A provocation? Of course, but only as much as a mature, wise artist may indulge in. --

Andrey Filimonov is one of a very few writers who can help our traditionally noble Russian literature continue to exist with dignity in these difficult times of mass culture’s overweening impudence. -- writer Yuz Aleshkovsky