Dhe Russian bestselling author Dmitry Glukhovsky, who immediately after the start of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine condemned it on Instagram and YouTube, was wanted by his fatherland in June and is unlikely to see his homeland again for the foreseeable future. Glukhovsky, who told our Frankfurt meeting that he lives “somewhere” in Europe, says he expected to be labeled a “foreign agent” at first, but given Instagram’s reach and its wide readership among young Russians, he didn’t want to repressive apparatus apparently send a stronger signal.
Glukhovsky has many friends in Ukraine, from where readers fleeing the Russian bombing to the metro stations wrote to him that they live like the heroes of his dystopian trilogy Metro 2033. The 43-year-old author is now one of those whose works are not displayed in Russian state bookstores, but are only allowed to stand on the shelves. The Moscow Ermolova Theater removed the successful stage version of his novel Text from its repertoire, and his Moscow apartment was sealed. And since the beginning of October he has actually been considered a “foreign agent”.
The anthology “Stories from Home”, which has now been published by Heyne in an excellent translation by Christiane Pöhlmann, M. David Drews and Franziska Zwerg, brings together stories that were mostly written ten years ago, when the highly effective system of repression was still considered evil Future option appeared. The texts, which like to intertwine the horrific with the comic, read like scripts for animated films.
In the story “From Hell” we witness how a geologist drilling in Siberia stumbles upon the gates of hell, from which devil creatures – a metaphor for Russia’s resource curse – flutter up, after which intelligence agents try to threaten and bribe the researcher from a publication dispose of this fund. The opening story “Everything has its price” transports us into the diabolical engine room of capitalist cost-benefit calculations, in which a Moscow medical company literally cannibalizes illegal migrant workers from Tajikistan for highly lucrative organ sales.
Amusingly, Glukhovsky extrapolates how Russia’s rulers might try to use high technology to outwit human nature that is reluctant to their plans. The story “The Apparition” outlines the equally exemplary and frustrating life of a young woman in the Russian provinces, who is suddenly struck by a glowing cloud. In her, the heroine recognizes her dream man – as if she were a modern nymph Io, who approaches Zeus, the father of the gods, as a fog bank.
The charming text, inspired by President Putin’s early years when the Kremlin ruler dominated the erotic fantasies of many Russian women, also brings to mind the country’s deep-rooted cult of leadership. The magic cloud that brings happiness to many of those who are able to have children in this wasteland is proving to be a real panacea, because not only does it impregnate and thus help the demographics, but it also makes their sad world appear beautiful to women.