5 October 07 | Chad W. Post

According to the Moscow News, the Russian PEN Center recently sent a letter to the Moscow’s prosecutor’s office, “asking for a thorough investigation of a road accident involving well-known Russian author Vladimir Sorokin earlier this month.”

This does sound really suspicious:

According to press reports, Sorokin was riding his scooter on an empty highway outside Moscow in plain daylight and was knocked off the road by a truck, which didn’t stop after the accident. Sorokin suffered some injuries, including a broken collar bone, and was taken to hospital where he underwent a surgery.

Sorokin’s been a controversial figure in Russian letters for years now. His novel Blue Lard—which includes a hot dictator-on-dictator sex scene starring clones Josef Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev—got him charged with pornography and basically pissed of much of Russia.

Moving Together, which says it has the support of Russian President Vladimir Putin, held a demonstration against literature they allege degrades traditional Russian society and tore up 6,700 books, including some of Sorokin’s, in front of TV cameras. [. . .]

The protesters threw books by Sorokin and Karl Marx into an oversized cardboard toilet outside Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre, which is considered the benchmark for high Russian culture and has also commissioned a libretto from Sorokin. (From CNN’s coverage back in 2002.)

The idea of an “oversized cardboard toilet” for eliminating books does crack me up, although the fact that this actually happened is deeply disturbing.

Reader’s International published an English version of The Queue years ago, and more recently, NYRB published Ice.

His new novel sounds interesting as well:

Incidentally, Sorokin’s most recent novel, last year’s Den oprichnika (A Day of an Oprichnik), which had a much sharper political edge than his previous books, satirizing the federal security service (FSB) by making a comparison with the Oprichnina, a notorious organization that terrorized the country’s population under Czar Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century, did not cause any controversy or have a substantial public resonance. However, it could have upset many people, not exactly those in FSB.


Comments are disabled for this article.
....
The Little Horse
The Little Horse by Thorvald Steen
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

The last five days of the eleventh-century Icelandic politician, writer of sagas, and famous murder victim Snorri Sturleleson (the Norwegian spelling, Snorre, is preserved in the book) make up Thorvald Steen’s most recently translated historical fiction, The Little Horse. Murdered. . .

Read More >

Guys Like Me
Guys Like Me by Dominique Fabre
Reviewed by Peter Biello

We all know Paris, or at least we think we know it. The Eiffel Tower. The Latin Quarter. The Champs-Élysées. The touristy stuff. In Dominique Fabre’s novel, Guys Like Me, we’re shown a different side of Paris: a gray, decaying. . .

Read More >

Birth of a Bridge
Birth of a Bridge by Maylis de Kerangal
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

One hundred pages into Birth of a Bridge, the prize-winning novel from French writer Maylis de Kerangal, the narrator describes how starting in November, birds come to nest in the wetlands of the fictional city of Coca, California, for three. . .

Read More >

Faces in the Crowd
Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli
Reviewed by Valerie Miles

At 30, the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli is already gathering her rosebuds. Faces in the Crowd, her poised debut novel, was published by Coffee House Press, along with her Brodsky-infused essay collection, Sidewalks. The essays stand as a theoretical map. . .

Read More >

Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia
Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia by Julio Cortázar
Reviewed by Cameron Rowe

Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (narrated by Julio Cortázar) is, not disappointingly, as wild a book as its title suggests. It is a half-novella half-graphic novel story about . . . what, exactly? A European tribunal, Latin. . .

Read More >

Self-Portrait in Green
Self-Portrait in Green by Marie NDiaye
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

Marie NDiaye has created a tiny, psychological masterpiece with her Self-Portrait in Green. In it she explores how our private fears and insecurities can distort what we believe to be real and can cause us to sabotage our intimate relationships.. . .

Read More >

The Madmen of Benghazi
The Madmen of Benghazi by Gerard de Villiers
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Reading a genre book—whether fantasy, science fiction, crime, thriller, etc.—which begins to seem excessively, stereotypically bad, I have to make sure to ask myself: is this parodying the flaws of the genre? Usually, this questioning takes its time coming. In. . .

Read More >

The Four Corners of Palermo
The Four Corners of Palermo by Giuseppe Di Piazza
Reviewed by Patience Haggin

The Sicilian Mafia has always been a rich subject for sensational crime fiction. The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos worked the mob’s bloody corpses and family feuds to both entertainment and artistic value. Giuseppe di Piazza’s debut novel attempts this,. . .

Read More >

Writers
Writers by Antoine Volodine
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .

Read More >

My Brilliant Friend
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Reviewed by Acacia O'Connor

It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .

Read More >