07 September 2008

Literary animus in the New Russia

Last night, we were startled to come across a reference in a book of short stories to another Russian writer we had just read. 

Viktor Erofeyev, enfant terrible of the new Russian wave which includes Andreï Makine and Viktor Pelevin, mentions a Vladimir Sorokin in his story titled The Shit-Sucker in his collection Life with an Idiot

Having been demobilised four years ago, Vladimir Sorokin, member of the Young Communist League, had returned to his native village, not too proud to get his hands dirty in shitty work on the farm. Now the whole region was trying to emulate this cattle breeder.

Hardly a coincidence as Sorokin the novelist is well known not just in his country. Anyway, it makes us wonder about the state of libel laws in the New Russia. Are the grapes sour?

It oughtn't to surprise us, though, as Erofyev rebelled against his privileged upbringing among the Stalinist elite. Erofeyev is the son of one of Stalin's translators. His father became a key figure in that regime.

Anyway, the set piece of Erofeyev's Life with an Idiot is not The Shit-Sucker but The Parakeet which we urge you to read.

Here are Erofeyev and Sorokin side by side, a tableau that we suspect doesn't happen often in life. In the spirit of mischief, we have placed Sorokin on the right and Erofeyev on the left.

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