Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Anonymous Novel. Sensing the Future Torments

by Alessandro Barbero

Written in Italian as Romanzo russo. Fiutando i futuri supplizi and translated into English by Allan Cameron, it does read as if Bulgakov authored it. (Mind you, I am not the only one who noticed that. Look no further than the caption on the cover, which I kept ignoring until today.) Also, the book’s very appearance is that of samizdat. The action begins in Moscow on 7 November 1987. (How remarkable, I thought, I remember all too well what I was doing on that very day.) The events develop in the course of the next three years in Moscow and Baku. At one point, we follow the heroes to the Krasnaya Presnya bath house. (Insert here my memories of that place back then. No, I don’t miss those times or places. Actually I do a bit, safe in the knowledge that I am not going back. Shudder.) Authentic. (Authentic? Yes, authentic.) Gripping. Well-crafted. (Insert more clichés here.) Thoroughly recommended.

It’s time we left the Yugo-Zapadny district and went to the Lenin Library. We’ll take the underground, of course. The end of the line is right here — just a short walk away. Why not take the same carriage as Tanya. Here she is seated in a corner: a chubby, well-built girl with a bagful of textbooks and notebooks on her knees... What was that? No, you cannot sit beside her. The train is packed at this time of day; it is her good fortune that she managed to find a place. However, we can get inside her head and listen to her thoughts. This is no problem from a technical point of view, and if we don’t exploit this possibility to the full, what the hell are we doing here?

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