published: February 2008
format : 210 mm x 140 mm
soft / hard cover
isbn : 978-2-35586-004-1 / 005-8
price france : soft 18 € / hard 19 €
This is the work of a Russian author, unknown in France, who lives in the Russian province, who has acquired a select readership and whose talent is undoubtedly recognized in Russia, but overlooked by the literary media establishment. This unusual work undertakes to restore forgotten basic values and denounces the absurd and cruel wars that are tearing Russia apart – wars that are much closer connected to everyday reality than it might appear...
A man enrolls as a mercenary and leaves for the Caucasus so as to be able to support his family. He comes back alive and safe. He secretly brings back the corpse of a fellow soldier who died from his wounds, to bury him in a grave in his native land.
A harsh and uncompromising book on the real life of the Russian people from the post-Soviet era, a singular landmark in the landscape of Russian literature as it is usually presented to the Western reader.
A provincial town in today’s Russia… How is an unemployed intellectual and a young father to support his family? A anonymous man turns up, recruiting mercenaries to fight in the Caucasus. There begin the hero’s eventful and tragic adventures, a breath-hold dive into the chaos of a war in which the enemy is omnipresent and unseizable. Outings in the desert mountains, the barracks and the nonsensical everyday life of an amateur soldier, civilians who live as zombies under system D. It is pointless to try and understand the perpetual absurdity, life and death. Death strikes where everyone had stopped to expect it. An odd shot, fired from nowhere, and aimed at no one – and all of a sudden the comrade with whom you have gone through this nightmare together, falls to the ground under your eyes, fatally wounded. Back in the barracks, one begins to discover the real side of things. A mercenary is a commodity, not entitled to anything. Honors, coffin, repatriation, flowers and wreaths – none of that. The journey back will be accompanied by the mortal remains of the friend, rolled in a rug. Back at home, the hero will hand the body over to the soldier’s family to be buried. Life resumes its ordinary course. All in all, nothing is changed; everything is as before, there is not enough money, routine life goes on, stronger than any human endeavors… One cannot emerge unaffected from this book. It strikes the deepest chords in one’s inner self, and casts a cold and lucid gaze on today’s Russia, raising the universal questions of human existence.
A brilliant style – concise, startling, dense. This short novel with a realistic outlook on the absurdity of war assumes an intonation and a distanced perspective to speak of crude and unbearable events that cannot fail to arouse compassion. His contemporary and unexpectedly European vision will come as a surprise to many.
Valery Piskunov lives in the Russian province in Rostov-on-Don, far from the vain agitation of the literary salons of Moscow. He has been writing for some twenty years. His work demonstrates, that the tradition of Pushkin, Tolstoi, Chekhov is quite alive – if that was not clear enough. A courageous writer, who is not afraid of words.
“I have agreed for my writing to be made known to the French reader to tell him this: do not judge Russian literature by the measure of Moscovite salons. In the metaphor I develop in this novel, the perceptive reader will not only see the Caucasian war and the fate of a volunteer soldier, but he will see that the tradition of Pushkin, Tolstoi, Chekhov endures, that it is alive.
This tradition does not play the fashion’s tune, it flees empty social “projects”, it continues to create its own world. A knight without fear and reproach. As always, at one’s own peril…”