Eventually, Yegor will come to wrestle with a hunger for vengeance for the gruesome, mysterious fate of his faithless girlfriend, Crybabe, and a dire ordeal of his own—pitted against a yearning to renounce his life of guns and greed. After the first question, he talks for almost 45 minutes, leaving hardly any time for questions after all. It is a typically Surkovian paradox that he would go on to become the main advocate in Putin’s circle for Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen strongman and former rebel leader who has turned into a crucial ally of Moscow, keeping Islamist extremism in check in the Caucasus region he rules with an iron fist. They first emerged in the mid-1990s, knocking on the gates of power like pied pipers, bowing low and offering their services to explain the world and whispering that they could reinvent it. He is working on a new story collection, Gangster Fables. ENCOURAGING, REALISTIC, MOTIVATING The book outlines the entire process from getting your values in order (why you want to declutter), going through each part of the house, how and where to take everything you’re getting rid of, and how to prevent buying more. Meanwhile, Surkov denied being Natan Dubovitsky in Russian Pioneer itself, when the allegations of authorship arose, and coyly denies it to this day—even though his wife Natalya’s maiden name is Dubovitskaya. And what a perversely fascinating, complex figure emerges from the details of Surkov’s biography: an arch-propagandist of power and an arty outsider, an authoritarian’s right hand and a bohemian aesthete whose education included studying theater at the Moscow Institute of Culture in the 1980s (he was expelled for fighting). He composed lyrics for the Russian rock band Agata Kristi (whose lead singer later sued a critic for calling him “a trained poodle for Surkov”). When I worked in Russian television, I encountered forms of this attitude every day. Almost Zero, translated by Nino Goji and Nastya Valentine, will be released in November 2017. “Effective” becomes the raison d’être for everything: Stalin was an “effective manager” who had to make sacrifices for the sake of being “effective.” The words trickle into the streets: “Our relationship is not effective” lovers tell each other when they break up. In late September, his name appeared hundreds of times in every news cycle, peaking at nearly 600 citations on the day Mr. Prokhorov called for his firing, according to the media consulting firm Medialogia. We see Yegor making his rounds: browbeating a vodka-sodden poet for verses to supply to a client, the regional governor, to publish as his own; conducting business in a sauna with a religiously obsessed hitman who collects brief literary works; contracting with an aging actress-turned-scribbler in her bubble bath while various young terrorists, both Russophile and jihadist, engage in bomb-making and theological disputes that flare into a Tarantino-style standoff of drawn weaponry. Its Moscow can feel like an oligarchy in the morning and a democracy in the afternoon, a monarchy for dinner and a totalitarian state by bedtime. Maintaining political stability is of critical importance. —With translation assistance from Alexei Bayer, Barry Yourgrau is the author of several collections of surreal short fiction, including Wearing Dad’s Head and Haunted Traveller, and a memoir, Mess. What really triggered the sensation, though, over Okolonolya, or Almost Zero (subtitled gangsta fiction, in English, in the Russian edition), was the identity of its author, an unknown named Natan Dubovitsky. The ultra-nationalist pro-Putin film director Nikita Mikhalkov, who made Burnt by the Sun, hailed the novel as “a truly great and amazing book… a masterpiece… a book we have not been seen since The Master and Margarita.” But another reviewer, in Russian Pioneer’s own pages, sneered that “the author clearly has nothing to say. One well-regarded critic called the book a devastating depiction of a Russia that preys upon its children. Then they could switch sides, sometimes mid-battle. In his spacious Kremlin office, photos of Putin and Medvedev hung beside the likenesses of Jorge Luis Borges and John Lennon, Che Guevara and a young Joseph Brodsky, together with Tupac in a hoodie, Obama looking pensive, and Bismarck looking “Iron Cross.”, Tall, in tailored Zegna charcoals, with looks suggesting a dashing upgrade of Rowan Atkinson, the shadowy Surkov was considered a creative genius. Almost Zero - Kindle edition by Dubovitsky, Natan, Surkov, Vladislav. For more than a decade, he has helped shape the ideological message of Russia’s leaders, its governing party, United Russia, of parties in opposition to United Russia, its youth movements, and virtually anything widely published or broadcast in the country. I lose nothing.”. “It is deeply rooted in the social fabric. It’s an eerie, disturbing tale—all the more so since we have reason to believe it is the maestro of non-linear operations in eastern Ukraine and Crimea himself who is relating the story, through the victims’ voices. In the summer of 2009, a slender novel caused a literary sensation in Moscow. Famously an admirer of Tupac Shakur, Surkov can also quote Allen Ginsberg’s poetry by heart, albeit in heavily-accented English (there’s a cringe-making recording online of him reciting Ginsberg’s “Supermarket Sutra” in full). Vladimir Rodionov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images, prepared to fire the finance minister, Aleksei L. Kudrin. The producers who worked at the Ostankino channels might all be liberals in their private lives, holiday in Tuscany, and be completely European in their tastes. Most importantly, the novel gives a glimpse into the mind of one of the world's most insidious politicians, for the author of this fictional work is said to be none other than Vladislav Surkov… Such apparent, almost obvious pranking (some commentators suggested Surkov was himself the source of the anonymous tip to Vedomosti) brings to mind what Adam Curtis sees as a feature of Surkov’s political tactics: that he let it be known what he was doing—for instance, officially backing human-rights NGOs even as he guided and funded anti-NGO, pro-Putin youth groups—“which meant that no one was sure what was real or fake,” as Curtis put it in his 2016 documentary HyperNormalization. Something similar has happened to the Russian elites: During the Soviet period they learned to dissimulate in order to survive; now there is no need to constantly change their colors, but they continue to do so out of a sort of dark joy, conformism raised to the level of aesthetic act. “It was the first non-linear war,” writes Surkov in a new short story, “Without Sky,” published under his pseudonym and set in a dystopian future after the “fifth world war”: In the primitive wars of the 19th and 20th centuries it was common for just two sides to fight. Born in provincial Russia to a single mother, Egor grows up as a bookish hipster disenchanted with the late Soviet Union’s sham ideology. There is nothing under all his paraphrases, retellings and rehashings… It’s a quasi-novel, a doll or a scarecrow.”, That critic was, naturally, Vladislav Surkov himself, writing under his own name.
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