PUBLISHERS OF LITERARY FICTION SINCE 1983
Oliver Ready's translation of Before & During won the Read Russia 2015 Translation Prize.
Set in a psychiatric clinic in Moscow in the long decades of late-Soviet stagnation, Before and During sweeps the reader away from its dismal surroundings on a series of fantastical excursions into the Russian past.
We meet Leo Tolstoy’s twin brother, eaten by the great writer in his mother’s womb, only to be born as Tolstoy’s ‘son’; the philosopher-hermit Nikolai Fyodorov, who believed that the common task of humanity was the physical resurrection of their ancestors; a self-replicating Madame de Staël who, during her second life, is carried through plague-ridden Russia in a glass palanquin and becomes Fyodorov’s lover; and the composer Alexander Scriabin, who preaches to Lenin on the shores of Lake Geneva.
Out of these intoxicating, darkly comic fantasies – all described in a serious, steady voice – Sharov seeks to retrieve the hidden connections and hidden strivings of the Russian past, its wild, lustful quest for justice, salvation and God.