Rights sold: China - LITZIAN, France - GALLIMARD, AWorld English - Readers International,
Winner of the 1993 Russian Booker Award
Baize-Covered Table with Decanter describes one man's psychological torture as he faces an impending visit to be interrogated at the Table for a perceived, minor infraction. Makanin describes in some detail each character present at the Table, their purpose, techniques, and psychology. He also descibes in flashbacks the physical torture of suspects in Soviet days past and the mental torture of some as they are forcibly drugged in state mental hospitals. The book contains a few sections with an adult material not appropriate for minors; one scene in particular describes the sexual abuse of a corpse and is really quite disturbing.
Makanin does a good job describing the moral corruption of Russian/Soviet society. Neighbor is turned against neighbor. Bribes and sexual favors are freely exchanged. Fear rules. It seems no one is immune to this societal degradation.
Baize-Covered Table leaves the reader with the impression that, although the Soviet torture methods may have diminished in recent years, psychological torture that breaks a person's spirit, mind, and body may persist... there will always be a Table in Russia.
"...it is all of Solzhenitsyn compressed into 144 pages" -- Kevin Tole, GoodReads