When the Soviet-Afghan War triggered a downfall of Homo Soveticus ideology, and the Communist regime collapsed in 1991, there was an expectation, both in the West and in Russia, that the country would embrace Western values and join the civilised world. It took no account of a ruined economy, depleted and exhausted human capital and the mental and moral dent made by 70 years of Soviet rule. Nobody knew what kind of country would succeed the Soviet Union, or what being Russian really meant. The removal of ideological and geographical constraints did not add moral clarity. In particular, the intelligentsia—the engine of Soviet collapse—was caught unprepared. When their “hopeless cause” became reality, it quickly transpired that the country lacked responsible elite able and willing to create new institutions. Herman Bronnikov, a protagonist of Andrei Volos’s tetralogy Judgement Days, was one of these Soviet intellectuals.
Rights sold: France - Alain Baudry & Cie Editeur, Spain - Acantilado
Prix Révélation de la Société des gens de lettres (2014, France)
Summer 1980: Moscow prepares for the Olympics at great risk, in the midst of the war in Afghanistan. The city is closed to non-residents, who in any case are abandoning it. Liza is one of them. An adolescent in search of her identity, she has gone with her mother to a village she has never been to, but where her mother is very well known. And for good reason: the village bears her name. The mansion, an imposing but dilapidated Italianate building, belonged to her ancestors, Russian princes close to the tsar. As for Liza, she bears the name of her father: Klein. A father who lives in America and the mere mention of whom is all but forbidden. Liza understands only that she hasRead more