OUT OF PRINT
Length 288 pages
Translated by Susan Brownsberger
This powerful novel is written in the form of a monologue, a breathtakingly articulate and obscene monologue, but throughout this torrent are moments of gentility and hilarity.
Colonel Bashov, called The Hand by his colleagues, is an agent of the Soviet security police, the official interrogator and executioner. Before his is Gurov whose father was responsible for the killing of a group of reactionaries, including members of The Hand’s family, at the beginning of the Stalinist régime. The Hand, then a young boy, was left impotent after this massacre.
To The Hand, this moment with Gurov is exquisite and a blissful way to celebrate his sixtieth birthday. He circles round his enemy, toys with him, suddenly launching into a vituperative assault, then sidestepping, giving vent to his hatred for the Soviet system, the leaders of Russia, Communism, Marzism, coming back again and again to the motives behind his quest for vengeance and agonizing over the consequences. He then focuses once more on Gurov – should he kill him as planned?
About Yuz Aleshkovsky
Yuz Aleshkovsky was born on Dictatorship Street, Krasnoyarsk, Siberia in 1929. His childhood was spent in Moscow where he lived until he was drafted into the army in 1949. In 1950 he was arrested and sent to the Gulag for a minor misdemeanour. Three years later, after Stalin’s death, he was released, returned to Moscow and worked as a lorry driver until 1963, when his first collection of children’s stories was published. His first adult work, the novella, Nikolai Nikolaevich, written in 1970, was circulated in samizdat. Kangaroo, the novel for which he is best known, was written in 1975. He left the USSR in 1978 and now lives with his family in Connecticut.
Aleshkovsky has had eight novels and collections of short stories published in the West. In December 1988, the literary Soviet journal Novy Mir printed the lyrics to several songs by Aleshkovshy about Stalin and the Gulag – Aleshkovsky was a popular songwriter in the 1950s and 1960s – but none of his prose works has yet been published in the USSR.