Shortlisted for National Literary Award Big Book (2006, Russia)
Rights sold: Germany – HANSER, Finland – BAZAR, Italy – Frassinelli, Turkey – DOGAN KITAP
Andrei Volos may be the first writer living in contemporary Russia to produce a work of fiction grounded in the ongoing nightmare of terrorism in Chechnya, the surrounding pro- separatist provinces and the Russian capital, Moscow. A native of Dushanbe, capital of the former Soviet Republic of Tadzhikistan, Volos has a knack for immersing the reader in the very complexity of the events we tend to hear about from mass media—a newspaper headline, an Internet article, a TV reportage. Operation “Resurrection” is the first fictionalized account of the conflict that takes a stab at portraying the events through a series of believable, well fleshed-out characters from both sides of the fence, Russian and Muslim alike. Volos successfully mixes reality with the supernatural, giving the facts an even grimmer analysis when set against the backdrop of a very unusual, fantastical element of the novel.
Our main hero is Sergey Barmin, the "animator". He is a young man in his thirties who belongs to a secluded and elite group of the animators, those who resurrect people’s souls once they die. The novel is broken down into nine compact chapters, with a short prologue and epilogue. Each chapter consists of two parts—starting with a back-flash story of one of the dead victims of terrorism, most of whom end up on Sergey’s lab table for his act of “resurrection,” and continuing with the story of Sergey himself. There are six victims all together; three of them take up two chapters each. The novel’s structure contributes to its success, the methodical line-up of the victims aiding its ultimate punch of an impact as events culminate to a dramatic end, with even more deaths and horror, when Volos gives a fictionalized account of the terrorist siege of a theater in Moscow—a well-known story of the very recent past.
Volos took on a mammoth task of portraying both sides of this ongoing conflict. The definition of terrorism is blurred in his narrative—both sides come across as brutal, uncompromising, and undiscriminating. They also have deeply-rooted causes for going on with their fight and Kachars’ (read: Chechen) cause come across as more convincing at times. The private tragedy of Sergey Barmin pales in comparison with the horror of the final chapter. The epilogue tells of Barmin’s recovery from the siege, his animation of Klara, and futile hope to go on, Klara’s shining spirit at hand in a glass tube. Barmin’s character serves more as a backdrop to the chain of the novel’s events and deaths. The main players are brutal deaths and despair of the endless conflict, the goal—to get their reality off the newspaper page and into our hearts. In this, Volos succeeds.