I haven’t read much modern Russian literature and so this is my first!
Moscow, 2028. A scream, a moan, and a death rattle slowly pull Andrei Danilovich Komiaga out of his drunken stupor. But wait—that’s just his ring tone. So begins another day in the life of an oprichnik, one of the czar’s most trusted courtiers—and one of the country’s most feared men.
In this new New Russia, where futuristic technology and the draconian codes of Ivan the Terrible are in perfect synergy, Komiaga will attend extravagant parties, partake in brutal executions, and consume an arsenal of drugs. He will rape and pillage, and he will be moved to tears by the sweetly sung songs of his homeland.
The book follows almost along the lines of the famous A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Solzhenitsyn but from a different class of people altogether. We follow Andrei throughout an average day in his life, from waking up and going to bed. As a member of the feared oprichnina, his duties include serving the tsar and mostly this means stamping out anyone who wonder slander the regime. His first meeting the day involves the execution of a nobleman, and the rape of his wife – all for the glory of the state, of course.
As we follow his day we get a glimpse of this “New Russia” too, and see the open humiliation of those who hold different ideologies or break certain rules, such as swearing.
Though well-written an interesting in places, perhaps I missed a lot of nuance in this book due to not being overly familiar with certain happenings in modern Russia (this book often been considered as a sort of satire of it). The following along the lines of Ivan Denisovich is interesting though, and seeing a modern take on such a famous Russian classic was definitely worth the time taken.
There are certain scenes in this book which I found a little uncomfortable to read, and it’s likely that if you have read you will know which I am referring too. Perhaps I get that particular remark on Russian culture though…