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Writer in Residence: 2011-12
Last year's Writer in Residence, Vladimir Sorokin, is the “resident genius” of late-Soviet and contemporary Russian fiction. One of the leaders of the Moscow underground scene of the 1980s, he continues to challenge dominant ideologies. His shockingly imaginative experimental texts, which were completely banned during the Soviet period, comprise a set of profound statements on the novelistic genre. His novel The Queue, for instance, depicts one of everyone's “favorite” Soviet pastimes – waiting in line – and consists solely of snatches of conversation, roll calls, jokes, howls of rage, and amorous moans.
His recent novel, Day of the Oprichnik, is a haunting, absurd and terrifying vision of Russia in 2028. This is a place dominated by futuristic technology, a draconian “divine monarch,” and members of an elite who get high on hallucinogenic, genetically modified fish. The narrative follows the strange life and times of Andrei Danilovich Komiaga, a fearsome oprichnik (the term refers to the medieval prototype of the Soviet KGB and the Russian FSB), and culminates in an excessive and darkly humorous scene depicting a KGB orgy.
Works in English
Ice (New York Review Books Classics, 2007)
The Queue (New York Review Books Classics, 2008)
Day of the Oprichnik: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011)
The Ice Trilogy (New York Review Books Classics, 2011)
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