PUBLISHERS OF LITERARY FICTION SINCE 1983
Translator: Oliver Ready Cover design: Marie Lane
Looking at the book not so much as what it is about but rather as to whether it makes for enjoyable reading, that is, for me, an easier task. Sharov tells several highly original and at times convoluted stories, often veering off on a tangent, at times mixing with the other stories, full of interesting ideas and even more interesting side stories, delving into Russian history, both distant past (Old Believers, Orthodox schism) and more recent (Lenin). We also get to learn about the non-Slavonic people of Russia. His characters are generally very original and quite different from the sort of people we Westerners are likely to come across. You may question the motives of some of them but, of course, that is part of the pleasure. I certainly do not want to read about people who think and act like me. In short, this is another absolutely brilliant book by Sharov, a thoroughly enjoyable read, a book you can really get your teeth into and one that will keep you going for some time.
'Part of the pleasure of the novel comes also simply in the great range of what Sharov describes and conveys, all the while building his larger picture. So, for example, a stroke-stricken Lenin often has difficulty reading and even communicating and, reflecting on God, observes that: "He created words to help us" -- but:
Now it was the sheer clumsiness of words that astounded him. There were millions of them, yet you could never use them to convey a taste or smell. [...] Words, he told Krupskaya, are and always will be a surrogate and a lie, and the only way pf returning to the world the Lord has given us is to renounce them.
Be as Children is certainly an unusual novel, but it's a rewardingly rich text -- a good story, even.'
'Sharov has achieved a remarkable success with Be as Children, which suggests a Christian, Russian form of magical realism. A modern book about dark Soviet times, it is a rich and resonant read perfect for our turbulent present.'
'Be As Children by Vladimir Sharov, superbly translated by Oliver Ready, is a hugely inventive tumble through a reimagined version of Russian history in which, among many other events, a post-stroke Lenin decides children are the only real hope of the revolution. It's one of the best novels I've read so far this year.'
'But to read this as a conventional story is to miss the point. This is a book not for entertainment, but for scholarship, as layer upon layer of parable, allegory and symbolism is unpeeled, to reveal the Russian soul.'
No. of pages: 491
Publication date: 24.09.2021
Re-print date: 24.09.2021
978 1 912868 34 6
978 1 912868 79 7
Dedalus World English