Rights sold: Estonia - VARRAK, France - Le Tripode, Germany - Kunstmann, World English - Vagabond Voices
Winner of the 2009 Yuri Dolgoruky Foundation Prize
Shortlisted for the 2010 Russian Booker Prize
Hanuman’s Travels, which was shortlisted for the Russian Booker in 2010, translated into English, German and French, and put on the German stage, is the picaresque tale of two asylum seekers, one a Russian Estonian man (the narrator) and the other an Indian (the protagonist), and their daily lives in a Danish refugee camp and on the road in the late 1990s. While they are waiting to go to the Danish island of Lolland, which is said to be a paradise, the two companions in misfortune survive in any way they can.
Among scams, big and small disgraces, humiliations and lies, a map is gradually drawn – a detailed map of itineraries where the hopes and the fears of thousands of marginal people flounder and intertwine. Their struggle at times engenders dismissiveness and even intolerance, but also humanity, courage and the wisdom born of experience and resignation. Andrei Ivanov was inspired to write this novel by his own vicissitudes as a stateless person living in Denmark.
The title clearly refers to Ramayana, an epic tale of a prince forced into exile and his years-long journey with his faithful companion, the monkey king. In Hindu mythology, Rāma is an “ideal person”, an avatar of the god Vishnu, who has adopted the shape of a mortal in order to demonstrate dharma, the right and virtuous life. The same question is faced daily by the heroes of all Ivanov’s books: how to remain human in the world out of joint, which is anything but humane – a world that denies his humanity.