Thursday, May 12, 2005

A wonderful text about Vladimir Voinovich and this part of the world - by Gary Shteyngart, in the New York Review of Books (once again, via the wonderful 3 Quarks Daily):

[...] The complicity between the ruler and the ruled is one of the major themes of Vladimir Voinovich's fiction. At a point roughly equidistant between the death of Gogol and the birth of the Internet, Russia endures the greatest tragedy a nation has ever inflicted upon itself. The tragedy was personified by one man, Stalin, but his crimes were abetted by thousands and tolerated by millions. Whether they admit it or not, most Russians will have a great-aunt or a great-uncle who wept upon hearing of Stalin's death. The film clips of Soviet citizens lining the streets and displaying a near-religious agony after the death of "the people's father" do not lie. Voinovich's best fiction offers both a humorous and scorching look at the lives of such people, and while he may be best known as a humorist, his work is serious in asking the question: "How could it have happened? [...]

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