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Istemi by Alexei Nikitin
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Istemi

by Alexei Nikitin

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1011,279,738 (4.17)1 / 4

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Bizarre sequence of events and intentions play havoc with the lives of the protagonist and his four friends as the story jumps from 1984 to 2004 (back and forth) in Kiev, Ukraine. The random mental game (what the KGB suspiciously called "the game with political implications" that "quantitatively simulated the partition of the Soviet Union") that the four friends invented and played while students in Kiev University, resulted in serious consequences. This is the plot. But for me, the plot didn't take me in as much as the glimpses into the snippets of reality as Ukraine transitioned from perestroika/glasnost to a completely new existence as a separate country. In the second part of the book, as the main character roams about Kiev streets, the matter-of-fact tone becomes more lyrical and contemplative, which makes him pronounce: "Come what may, the force of life has always been abundant in Kiev hills".... I think the translator Anne Marie Jackson did a very good job - for it's not that easy to translate Russian authors when one is not a native Russian speaker. ( )
2 vote Clara53 | Apr 11, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alexei Nikitinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Jackson, Anne MarieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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One of the most ambitious and wildly inventive novels to have come out of Russia in years, this short novel embraces the Brehznev years, the USSR's disintegration, and capitalist shock therapy in the post-Soviet blocThe eponymous hero, part of a brood of bored science students, helps concoct a strategy game set in different eras where each ""ruler"" of his territory competes in Orwellian permanent war. But the KGB uncovers highly plausible and suspicious military plans and a long penance for each ""combatant"" ensues. All too late, Istemi is the first to realize the mysterious.… (more)

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