ELKOST International Literary Agency

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Commemoration in Karaganda, 2002

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Rights sold to: China - Heilongjiang University Press, Croatia - Fraktura, France - NOIR SUR BLANC, World English – AND OTHER STORIES, Hungary - MAGVETO, Poland - NOIR SUR BLANC, Italy - Odoya

 

Russian Booker Prize (2002),
Russian Booker of the Decade nominee (2011)

Pavlov's third novel, Commemoration in Karaganda (2002), is a real masterpiece. It is a description of a long journey of a funeral team that has to deliver Cargo 200 (a military coffin) from a remote Asian garrison all the way to Moscow. The main character is to hand the body of a soldier who has committed suicide, unable to face the merciless lawlessness of the Russian army, over to his family. The funeral feast turns into a drunken brawl, some are left dead, and some go to jail. The atmosphere of despicable cruelty that surrounds the whole situation, as well as the young conscript in charge of the coffin, Alexei Kholmogorov, leaves us with a feeling that, under the circumstance, the dead man is probably the luckiest one.

Pavlov's books are filled with images of men who live, bound and constrained, amid the boundless vastness of the Asian steppes, and this paradox determines the melody and the tone of his prose.

For Pavlov, the Army is not only a most tragic theme; it is also one of the major responsibilities of the modern Russian literature, primarily because the Army is a vital component of contemporary life with its wars and its problems that affect thousands and thousands of men.