Friday, February 12, 2010

Olga Slavinikova's 2017, Winner of the Russian Book Prize, Previewed in Booklist

Booklist offers a preview of 2017, a new novel by Olga Slavinikova, coming to bookstores in March 2010: "Strange things are happening in the rugged Riphean Mountains in this rambunctious novel of Russian society 100 years after the revolution, winner of the Russian Booker Prize. Slavnikova’s imaginary mountains, which resemble the Urals where she grew up, harbor mischievous spirits protecting deep veins of rubies that attract two unlikely rock hounds, the impervious professor Anfilogov and his humble, steeltoothed conspirator, Kolyan. As Slavnikova’s high-strung, stubbornly romantic narrator, Krylov, a down and-out historian turned gem cutter, sees them off at the train station, he falls in love with a stranger. Their affair is so clandestine they don’t know each other’s names or why they’re being followed. As Anfilogov and Kolyan dig for gemstones in a catastrophically poisoned landscape, Krylov’s ferocious ex-wife, Tamara, one of Russia’s new capitalists, faces a spectacular takedown, while a new, bizarrely theatrical civil war breaks out. Wildly elaborate descriptions, rampant anomalies, Krylov’s brooding, and a provocative mix of mystery and satire prove demanding. But Slavnikova’s characters are magnetizing, and her crystal clear vision of a world in which “commercial infinities” choke off humanism and art is salubriously caustic."— Donna Seaman

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