Check out the Pride Celebration Treasure Hunt!
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Librarian by Mikhail Elizarov

The Librarian (original 2007; edition 2015)

by Mikhail Elizarov (Author), Andrew Bromfield (Translator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1087167,441 (3.18)1
Title:The Librarian
Authors:Mikhail Elizarov (Author)
Other authors:Andrew Bromfield (Translator)
Info:Pushkin Press (2015), 416 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Librarian by Mikhail Elizarov (Author) (2007)



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 1 mention

English (5)  French (2)  All languages (7)
Showing 5 of 5
I enjoyed The Librarian but may be predisposed to like a novel about clans of readers who fight to the death over books that aren't good fiction but have drug-like effects. The Librarian seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it book: the violence, the weirdness, and the references to the past seem to put many readers off, but I thought they made for an interesting picture of a parallel world. I wrote about the book here on my blog. ( )
  LizoksBooks | Dec 15, 2018 |
The books by Gromov, obscure and forgotten propaganda author from the Soviet era, have gained a bit of cult following. However this is not your normal fandom and his book are unlike anything you will ever read. These books have the ability to magically transform anyone; make the weak strong, the cowardly brave. Small groups have formed to protect these supernatural book with their leader given the title The Librarian. War breaks out between these libraries in desperate attempts to seize any copies of Gromov’s books they may have. The Librarian tells the story of Alexei, a loser who unexpectedly stumbles across one of Gromov’s books that changes his life forever.

This dystopian world created by Mikhail Elizarov is an obvious allegory for the Soviet Union, however it is something to be expected in post-Soviet literature. However Elizarov explores some interesting themes as well, in particular an idea of ‘blind faith’ in politics. The Librarian looks at the way people will thoughtlessly adopt a political system in which they are forced to inhabit. The author has a lot to say on the Soviet system and, like other Russian authors (in Soviet and post-Soviet literature), he adopts a satirical method to explore these ideas.

Alternatively, you could look at The Librarian from the perspective of the power of books. The entire novel is about people reading these books and gaining power, knowledge, and so on. This is the true power of books; as readers, we educate ourselves and learn empathy, and also get different political, historical or cultural points of view. While we might not gain the same amount of power as the people in this novel, we do gain power.

I found this book extremely interesting and I was engrossed the entire way through it. It is violent and could be a little too hard for some to handle but there is something worth exploring here. The Librarian won the Russian Booker Prize in 2008; this is very similar to the Man Booker Prize but for Russian novels. I had not heard too much about the Russian Booker Prize previously but I am now very interested. As a fan of Russian lit, I will keep an eye out for books translated into English so I can continue to explore more post-Soviet literature.

This book originally appeared on my blog; http://www.knowledgelost.org/book-reviews/genre/magical-realism/the-librarian-by... ( )
1 vote knowledge_lost | Feb 18, 2016 |
It's very Russian: inescapable sense of fatalism, normalized violence and lots of it, and a cast of characters with multiple names that bleed together. I will say that the idea of a secret cult/cabal of readers, reading rooms, librarians, and libraries mystically powered by an author's work is intriguing.

Popsugar Reading Challenge 2015 | Task 24: Read a book based entirely on its cover ( )
  Bodagirl | Dec 19, 2015 |
A quarter way through I had to DNF. Perhaps it would have been a much smoother read in Russian. In English it was very dense and more descriptive than personal. I found it very hard to read and it was easy to lose interest. A shame. I am always glad when Russian fantasy authors get into foreign reader market, but this translation did not work for me.
  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |
A fabulous, rare 5 star read - we need more of this writer's work translated!!!

My review here:

http://shinynewbooks.co.uk/fiction-issue-5/the-librarian-by-mikhail-elizarov/ ( )
  kaggsy | Apr 13, 2015 |
Showing 5 of 5
With its brutal sarcasm and unresolved ambiguity, Mikhail Elizarov’s novel dramatizes the essential features of contemporary Russia – its self-destructive mysticism, deprecation of human life, relentless drive towards demodernization, and also a very traditional but increasingly bizarre focus on imaginative literature and historical memory.

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizarov, MikhailAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bromfield, AndrewTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
The working man should have the firm understanding that you can make as many buckets and locomotives as you like, but a song and a thrill cannot be made. A song is more precious than things…

First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Gromov is merely a forgotten writer of Soviet propagandist novels. But he has left behind his Books and the powers they impart - the Fury to tear enemies limb from limb, the Memory of a perfect childhood, the Strength to overcome all fear of death. These books transform believers from senile to lucid, cowardly to brave, weak to strong. Soon, Libraries of readers start to emerge, waging war on one another to seize precious copies of the Books and terrible consequences ensue.

Trapped in the middle of this world inhabited by society's outcasts - the decrepit, the heartbroken, the abandoned, the abused - is the young and unremarkable Alexei. Everything will change when he inherits a Book of Memory, and therefore becomes... a Librarian.

Blending depravity, black humour, reality and myth, Elizarov casts a satirical eye over Soviet Russia in this epic masterpiece and winner of the Russian Booker Prize-a tale of human longing, unwavering belief, and the search for meaning in a chaotic, illusory world. [Amazon.co.uk]
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

A collection of books, written by unpopular Soviet-era novelist Gromov, have incredible mystical powers. When Alexei inherits these as part of an uncle's estate, he has no idea of the power they hold and what a group of readers will do to possess them.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.18)
0.5 1
2 4
3 3
3.5 3
4 4
5 2

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 135,492,969 books! | Top bar: Always visible