Day of the Oprichnik by Vladimir Sorokin

By Vladimir Sorokin

Certainly one of The Telegraph’s most sensible Fiction Books 2011

Moscow, 2028. a chilly, snowy morning.

Andrei Danilovich Komiaga is speedy asleep. A scream, a moan, and a loss of life rattle slowly pull him out of his drunken stupor—but wait, that’s simply his ring tone. And so starts off one other day within the lifetime of an oprichnik, one of many czar’s such a lot relied on courtiers—and one of many country’s such a lot feared men.

Welcome to the recent New Russia, the place futuristic expertise and the draconian codes of Ivan the negative are in ideal synergy. Corporal punishment is again, as is a divine monarch, yet nowadays everybody will get details from high-tech information bubbles, and the elite get excessive on hallucinogenic, genetically converted fish.

Over the process at some point, Andrei Komiaga will endure witness to—and take part in—brutal executions; extravagant events; conferences with ballerinas, soothsayers, or even the czarina. he'll rape and pillage, and he'll be moved to tears via the sweetly sung songs of his place of birth. he'll eat an arsenal of substances and denounce threats to his nice nation’s morals. And he'll fall in love—perhaps despite a few his colleagues.

Vladimir Sorokin, the fellow defined by way of Keith Gessen (in The big apple assessment of Books) as “[the] merely actual prose author, and resident genius” of late-Soviet fiction, has imagined a close to destiny either too stressful to consider and too practical to push aside. yet like every of his most sensible paintings, Sorokin’s new novel explodes with invention and darkish humor. A startling, relentless portrait of a and troubling empire, Day of the Oprichnik is without delay a richly imagined imaginative and prescient of the long run and a razor-sharp prognosis of a rustic in challenge.

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Example text

The word doctor sounded in my mind as soon as my eyes fastened on the Healer. He wore loose-fitting blue green clothes that left his arms bare. Scrubs. He had hair on his face, a strange color that my memory called red. Red! It had been three worlds since I had seen the color or any of its relatives. Even this gingery gold filled me with nostalgia. His face was generically human to me, but the knowledge in my memory applied the word kind. An impatient breath pulled my attention to the Seeker. She was very small.

Impossibly crippled in comparison to many I’d used, yet still it managed to find fluidity and expression. Sometimes beauty. My language now. My native tongue. With the truest instinct of my kind, I’d bound myself securely into the body’s center of thought, twined myself inescapably into its every breath and reflex until it was no longer a separate entity. It was me. Not the body, my body. I felt the sedation wearing off and lucidity taking its place. I braced myself for the onslaught of the first memory, which would really be the last memory—the last moments this body had experienced, the memory of the end.

His voice surprises me—it is too close. “I’m sorry I kissed you! That was stupid! ” I don’t say it loudly, but I know he hears. He’s getting even closer. I’ve never been outrun before. I push my legs harder. There’s a low grunt to his breathing as he speeds up, too. Something big flies into my back, and I go down. I taste dirt in my mouth, and I’m pinned by something so heavy I can hardly breathe. “Wait. A. Minute,” he huffs. He shifts his weight and rolls me over. He straddles my chest, trapping my arms under his legs.

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