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Faithful Ruslan by Georgi Vladimov
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Faithful Ruslan

by Georgi Vladimov

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Really, shouldn't I, by this stage in my life, know better than to read books about dogs? Because once you get past the 101 Dalmations stage, there are no happy endings. There are no "and then he sniffed her butt, and she sniffed his, and they walked off into the sunset..." No. The dog dies. The dog always dies.

I'm sure that's why, or at least part of why, though the description of Faithful Ruslan was intriguing, I did not pick it when making my big order from Melville House's Neversink collection. But then, because all the books I had ordered weren't actually going to be published for months, the lovely folks at Melville sent Ruslan for free, as a teaser of sorts.

Okay, we should probably get one thing straight. It may sound like I was bitter because this was a bad book. That is not the case at all. I am bitter (a little bit), because this was a wonderful, amazing book, that almost caused me to have a complete bawling breakdown in the middle of the Grand Rapids Children's Museum, before I very wisely closed the book and decided to finish reading it in the car.

I wasn't sure, when I started reading the book, that I would get pulled all the way in. I am not a dog person. And the book is written from the point of view of the dog, Ruslan, which made me wary. Writing a book from the point of view of an animal is a pretty big conceit. It would have to be wonderful, or the author risks falling on his (or her) face. Luckily, this book is wonderful. It feels authentic, is very engaging, and while there is a feeling of doom hanging over the entire book, it never crosses the line into darkness for darkness's sake. Rather, it feels as if it is bearing witness to a story that needed to be told. Indeed, after I finished reading, I discovered (re-discovered) that the book was based on a real-life incident.

A difficult read, but very worthwhile. Recommended to animal lovers and those interested in Soviet history. ( )
  greeniezona | Sep 20, 2014 |
Vladimov offers a moving allegory of conditioned devotion to the state in post-Stalinist Russia. The hero here isn’t Ivan Denisovich, but Ruslan, one of the Gulag prison camp’s guard dogs. Ruslan, like the released prisoners who have no place to go, is forced to endure a life that has lost all sense of purpose.
  vplprl | May 13, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Georgi Vladimovprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Glenny, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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