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Rehearsals, Schisms and Siberia: An Evening with Vladimir Sharov

Pushkin House, 5A Bloomsbury Square, London WC1A 2TA. Monday 9 April, 7:30-8.30 pm.

New Jerusalem Monastery, seventeenth-century Moscow. Patriarch Nikon has instructed an itinerant French dramatist to stage the New Testament and hasten the Second Coming. But this will be a strange form of theatre. The actors are untrained, illiterate Russian peasants, and nobody is allowed to play Christ…

A stunning reflection on art, religion and national identity, The Rehearsals is the seminal work in the unique oeuvre of Vladimir Sharov, now widely acknowledged as one of the outstanding Russian writers of the past half-century. To mark the first English translation of this novel, which was written in the late 1980s, Sharov will be joined by his translator Oliver Ready and the critic Anna Aslanyan for a discussion and reading.

A recent laureate of the Russian Booker Prize, Sharov is the author of eight novels, among them Before and During, which won the Read Russia Prize in Oliver Ready’s translation in 2015. Reviewing that book in the NYRB, Rachel Polonsky commented that Sharov’s prose is ‘disconcerting, almost hallucinatory. His writing is at times funny, at times so piercingly moving, so brimful of unassuaged sorrow, that it causes a double-take.’

Sharov himself has said of his apparently extravagant fiction: ‘I write the entirely real history of thoughts, inventions and beliefs. This is the country that existed. This is our own madness, our own absurd.’

Copies of The Rehearsals, which is published by Dedalus Books, will be available for purchase at a discounted rate.