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The Slynx

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Two hundred years after civilization ended in an event known as the Blast, Benedikt isn't one to complain. He's got a job — transcribing old books and presenting them as the words of the great new leader, Fyodor Kuzmich, Glorybe — and though he doesn't enjoy the privileged status of a Murza, at least he's not a serf or a half-human four-legged Degenerator harnessed to a troika. He has a house, too, with enough mice to cook up a tasty meal, and he's happily free of mutations: no extra fingers, no gills, no cockscombs sprouting from his eyelids. And he's managed — at least so far — to steer clear of the ever-vigilant Saniturions, who track down anyone who manifests the slightest sign of Freethinking, and the legendary screeching Slynx that waits in the wilderness beyond.

299 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2000

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About the author

Tatyana Tolstaya

71 books271 followers
Tatyana Tolstaya (Татьяна Толстая) was born in Leningrad, U.S.S.R. As the great-grandniece of the Russian author Leo Tolstoy and the granddaughter of Alexei Tolstoy, Tolstaya comes from a distinguished literary family; but, according to Marta Mestrovic's interview in Publishers Weekly with the author, she hates ‘‘being discussed as a relative of someone.’’

Still, Tolstaya's background is undeniably one of culture and education. Her father was a physics professor who taught her two languages, and her maternal grandfather was a well-known translator.

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Displaying 1 - 29 of 413 reviews
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
December 17, 2018

Tatyana Tolstaya was born into the Russian aristocratic family of Tolstoy. You might be thinking, as was I, would that happen to be the Leo Tolstoy family? Why in fact it is! I wasn't able to trace down exactly how she is related to Leo, but in several articles it mentions her relationship to the Russian literary giant. Her grandfather, Aleksei Nikolaevich Tolstoi, was also a well respected writer who wrote the book "Peter l". Tolstaya has a literary blue-blood heritage that gives her a leg up in the publishing world. The Russian publishers had to be wiping the saliva from their chins at the thought of having another Tolstoy to publish. But can the woman write, can she make Leo Tolstoy proud?


YES!!! In my humble opinion she delivered a masterpiece. A wonderfully inventive book that Leo would have read with awe and delight. The book is part of the New York Review Books classic series that are of such high quality I often wonder why I'm not reading more of them. Here is a link to their website. http://www.nybooks.com/books/

Our hero is Benedikt and he is living in a post-apocalyptic world where rabbits are toxic, food in general is scarce, and nearly everyone is exhibiting Consequences as a result of THE BLAST event that happened 200 years ago. Benedikt transcribes old books, written before the THE BLAST, and they are presented to the world as the writings of their leader Fyodor Kuzmich, Glorybe. The scribes begin to question that the writing style of their dear leader changes so much from book to book, but it is best not to have any association with Freethinking.

Anytime you feel different than you should you must be careful. "When you growl through your teeth, grumble and grouse--the anger feels good, it kind of rolls around all prickly warm inside you. You wanna show off your strength. Kick a fence. Or a dog if you meet one. Or smack one of the guys around. Whatever. There are all kinds of things you can do. But sometimes you don't feel like getting mad. It's like there's a sadness inside. Like you feel sorry for someone. Must be feelosophy.

Bureaucrats control every faze of their existence. These are for the most part self appointed people who have taken over collecting taxes, rationing of script, and managing the distribution of goods. Most are corrupt and cut a fat hog while the rest of the population is near starvation. The main source of protein and bartering power comes from one little critter that most of us don't even want to contemplate adding to our diet, and certainly it makes me shiver to think of my survival depending on my ability to build a better mouse trap.


Trade is determined by how many mice something is worth. Benedikt carries them around in braces under his jacket to barter them for more variety in his food diet. When he goes to see the widow Marfushka he must have enough mice for the legs to part.

"Benedikt went to see the widow woman Marfushka about the woman business: maybe once or twice a week, but he'd always go to see Marfushka. You couldn't exactly say she was pretty. In fact, her whole face was sort of crooked, like someone hit her with a battle ax. And one eye wandered. Her figure wasn't all that great either. She was shaped like a turnip. But she didn't have any Consequences. She was rounded out where she out to be and caved in where she out to be. After all, he didn't visit her to look at her, but to take care of the woman business. If looking's what you want--well, you can go out on the street and look until your eyes pop out."

Benedikt's life takes an abrupt turn when he decides in a moment of starry eyed lust to ask the beautiful Olenka to marry him. Her family is wealthy and part of his new father-in-law's job is to track down old books. It is illegal to own books printed before the blast and even though most of the population has been made afraid of being in the same room as a "toxic" book from the past there are still people brave enough to squirrel books away in old wells or hidden in walls. It is a life changing moment for Benedikt when he finds that his father-in-law has a room full of books, and once Benedikt gets over his inherent superstitions, and begins to read, he is absolutely lost to the world of books. He inhales them. He spends so much time reading that his wife complains that he isn't paying attention to her anymore. He begins helping his father-in-law to find more books. He becomes an insane (more than just gently mad) bibliophile. He becomes desperate when he realizes that he has...READ THEM ALL.

His father-in-law, a few cards short of a full deck, dangles the prospect of liberating the books held by Fyodor Kuzmich, Glorybe and what ensues is not only hilarious, but a wonderfully constructed piece of social commentary.

The world after the blast has slid backwards. Food is an issue. There is never enough of it and too much of what used to be a staple of the Russian table has proven to still be toxic from the blast. Half-human, four-legged Degenenerator's are used to pull sleighs, and the sarcastic word exchanges between one in particular and Benedikt elicited more than one snicker from me. The book receives high marks for originality, humor, and "feelosophy". "Don't you shake your beard at meeee! I with utmost confidence HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
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Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,442 followers
July 18, 2023
Vreți o carte de un umor total, nebun? Vreți fantezie, ingeniozitate și inteligență? Într-un cuvînt, vreți să citiți o capodoperă? Atunci cumpărați negreșit Zâtul Tatianei Tolstaia (n. 1951), stră-nepoata lui Aleksei Tolstoi (cel care a compus Calvarul), fiul unui alt conte Tolstoi înrudit de departe cu Lev Nikolaevici Tolstoi.

Nu știu cum aș putea caracteriza mai bine acest roman. Este o distopie blîndă, o distopie-vodevil, în opinia criticilor anglo-saxoni, un basm grotesc.

Universul din Zâtul se reduce la o așezare de izbe mizeroase, cu cîteva mii de locuitori extrem de săraci, nu mai mare decît un cătun, numită Fiodor Kuzminsk, după numele Mîrzacului Suprem, Fiodor Kuzmici. Ocupațiile Marelui Mîrzac, slăvit fie numele lui, sînt două: compune decrete (de pildă, legiferează în ce zi începe Anul Nou, poate fi și în 1 martie, nu contează decît ceea ce-i trece prin minte, bunul lui plac complet arbitrar, adică oficial) și plagiază la întîmplare (fără să priceapă el însuși nimic) poeții, prozatorii și filosofii de dinainte de Prăpăd. Un atelier de scribi reproduce aceste broșuri. Protagonistul cărții, Benedikt, este unul dintre scribi.

Fiodor Kuzmici, slăvit fie numele lui, a inventat totul, așa se spune: roata de lemn, focul, blidele de piatră, sania, supa de șoareci, foculeandrul etc. Iată ce cred supușii despre Marele Mîrzac: „Zi și noapte, Fiodor Kuzmici nu doarme, tot merge încolo și-ncoace, mîngîindu-și barba stufoasă, făcîndu-și griji pentru noi, guguștiucii: sîntem mîncați, sîntem băuți, avem vreun necaz, vreo durere?” (p.18). Sună destul de familiar acest pasaj...

Societatea din Fiodor Kuzminsk s-a diferențiat de la sine: cei mulți (guguștiucii) muncesc fără să se întrebe de ce, abrutizați și pasivi. Cîțiva, mîrzacii, îi strunesc pe cei mulți, împart salariile și ridică impozitele. Oamenii sînt inculți, naivi, rudimentari, superstițioși. Medicina se rezumă la cîteva descîntece. Toți cred în legende. La sud, trăiesc temuții ceceni. În pădurile din nordul așezării, s-ar ascunde făpturi malefice și viclene, precum Zâtul. E foarte periculos să fii în preajma lui. Nimeni nu l-a văzut vreodată aievea, dar lumea vorbește înfricoșată despre el. Cînd cineva simte un gol în suflet, o sfîrșiere în măruntaie, se spune că i-a sărit Zâtul în ceafă. În realitate, îl chinuie „felosofia”...

Acțiunea romanului se petrece la 200 de ani de la Prăpăd. Aluzia este, desigur, la catastrofa nucleară de la Cernobîl, din 1986. Oamenii sînt niște mutanți, toți au urmări aberante, o anatomie stricată: unul își poartă urechile subsuoară, alții au nasuri pînă la pămînt, creste de cocoș, picioarele viitoarei soții a lui Benedikt, Olenka, fiica Sanitarului General, se termină cu gheare. Protagonistul însuși are coadă.

O minoritate citește cărți adevărate, nu se mulțumește cu broșurile Mîrzacului Suprem, copiate de scribi pe coajă de mesteacăn și schimbate la piață pe șoareci. De la pasiunea oarbă pentru cărțile „arhetipărite” pornește totul. Benedikt își descoperă patima pentru lectură, devine un bibliomaniac și vrea să-și procure tot mai multe cărți vechi. Inițiază o lovitură de palat. Fiodor Kuzmici, slăvit fie numele lui, este ucis de Benedikt și înlocuit cu Sanitarul General.

Nu am voie să spun mai mult...
Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,377 reviews12k followers
October 21, 2019

Tatyana Tolstaya's The Slynx is a jewel among the list of classics published by New York Review Books, a post-apocalyptic satire taking place two hundred years after “the Blast” in what was the city of Moscow. Human society has reverted to a state more primitive than a village in the darkest age of medieval, dark-age Europe. And that’s understatement - mice provide the main diet and are used for barter and trade; fire is a source of magic forcing people to rely on “stokers” to keep their stoves going; strong taboos and prohibitions surround writing and books.

Life from end to end is filthy and brutish – even some of the population serve as beasts of burden while others born following the Blast have all sorts of bodily deformations: gills, one eye, cockscombs, nostrils growing out of their knees, webs between fingers, long tails, claws instead of feet. Not exactly the stuff of Madison Avenue.

The novel’s main character is Benedikt, a young man who is, as the saying goes, not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Among those Benedikt deals with are some Olderners, that is, people who survived the Blast and miraculously continue living for hundreds of years. I suppose one can infer such longevity is the result of direct exposure to the aftereffects of the Blast.

Benedickt’s mother was one such Olderner, a woman who would still be alive if she hasn’t been poisoned by a nebulous something or other, perhaps a critter, known as a fireling. Poor mum, she pined over the loss of those pre-Blast days where she could visit deportment stores and booticks - and, yes, such bending of language runs through the entire novel. Jamey Gambrell deserves special praise for her English translation from the Russian in what must have been one of her most challenging projects.

All in all, a peculiar, highly original work of fiction having more than a little in common with Russian absurdist author Daniil Kharms. For those unfamiliar with Kharms, he wrote a story where a man not only loses his handkerchief, hat, jacket and boots but also loses himself. One of his plays features Pushkin and Gogol who do nothing but repeatedly trip and fall over each other and another play with several characters running out on stage one at a time only to vomit followed by a young girl telling the audience they might as well go home since all the actors are sick.

So, we may ask, why did Tatyana Tolstaya, granddaughter of Aleksei Tolstoy and grandniece of Leo Tolstoy, author of two previous collections of lyrical, poetic short stories, spend four years (1996-2000) devoting herself to writing a three hundred page wacky dystopian novel?

One reasonable answer is such a tale gave Ms. Tolstaya a broad literary canvas to make sharp, penetrating observations on the nature of language, art and literature, particularly in the context of her own country’s history. Additionally, a reader can sense elements of Russian folktales popping up now and again. But, let me underscore, on the level of sheer storytelling The Slynx is highly entertaining, a lively humdinger featuring all flavors of screwy high jinx. To take one small example, someone's chickens go mad, start to talk like people and lay big, creepy-looking eggs.

The many references to literature and the arts are among the most fascinating parts of the novel. Here are a few of my favorites:

There’s Fyodor Kuzmich, Glorybe, a puffed up leader who feeds the population heaps of lies and other assorted crap. Among the long list, he claims to be the author of all sorts of poetry and prose, the work of Pushkin in particular, and even decides to write a shoppinghower and calls it The World as Will and Idea. He goes on to say art for art sake is no good since art should be connected to life. Oh, my, with this statement, we hear echoes of Leo Tolstoy’s famous What is Art?. A number of characters attempt to address questions revolving around the purpose and nature of writing and the arts.

One of the Oldeners, Nikita Ivanich, the Head Stoker, makes his presence felt throughout the tale. Old Nikita (I couldn’t help but think of Khrushchev) says he wants to keep memory alive and hopes for a spiritual runnysauce (his word for renaissance). Old Nikita’s notions of art are linked with improving morals. Yet again another dimension explored within The Slynx.

Meanwhile Benedikt’s marriage gives him access to his father-in-law’s library where he can immerse himself in books. At one point he observes: “You read, move your lips, figure out the words, and it’s like you’re in two places at the same time: you’re sitting or lying with your legs curled up, your hands groping in the bowl, but you can see different worlds, far-off worlds that maybe never existed but still seem real. You run or sail or race in a sleigh – you’re running away from someone, or you yourself have decided to attack – your heart thumps, life flies by, and it’s wondrous: you can live as many different lives as there are books to read.”

Fantastic! Even someone like Benedikt who isn’t exactly scholar material (he thinks The Gingerbread Man is a scary story since the fox eats the Gingerbread Man in the end) can enlarge their imagination and multiply mental vistas. It might be claimed Benedict uses literature primarily as an escape rather than other, more profound reasons to engage with books and ideas, but who knows where even Benedikt’s escapism might lead since tapping the imagination can open up so many worlds.

Imagination brings us to the Slynx. Beware! Old people say, “The Slynx sits on dark branches and howls a wild, sad howl - eeeeennxx, eeeeennxx, eenx-a-leeeeeeennxx! - but no one ever sees it.” The Slynx will bite you, take away your reason and make you go crazy and then you’ll just die.

What can the Slynx represent? Is it the destructive animal side of the novel’s men and women with their tails and claws? Or, is the Slynx the power of imagination and mythmaking that grabs us so we can undergo the needed death and transformation that will empower us become more complete selves? As Charles Bukowski said, “You have to die a few times before you can really live.”

The Slynx as the creature that sets our imagination on fire, in this case the very novel we are reading. Personally, above all others, I favor this interpretation - The Slynx is the Slynx.

Special thanks to my Goodreads friends Jeffrey Keeten and MJ Nicholls for their glowing reviews that prompted me to give The Slynx a whirl.

“You, Book! You are the only one who won't deceive, won't attack, won't insult, won't abandon! You're quiet - but you laugh, shout, and sing: you're obedient - but you amaze, tease, and entice; you're small, but you contain countless peoples. Nothing but a handful of letters, that's all, but if you feel like it, you can turn heads, confuse, spin, cloud, make tears spring to the eyes, take away the breath, the entire soul will stir in the wind like a canvas, will rise in waves and flap its wings!”
― Tatyana Tolstaya, The Slynx
Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,442 followers
April 30, 2023
N-am obosit și nu voi obosi să recomand prietenilor acest roman fabulos, scris de stră-stră-nepoata lui Alexei Tolstoi, supranumit Prințul Roșu.

Mă bucur că a apărut o nouă ediție. Am profitat de ocazie și l-am recitit. Îmi păstrez părerea: un astfel de roman se publică o dată la un deceniu. Tatiana Tolstaia se înscrie în tradiția marilor prozatori ruși. Comparația cu Gogol s-a făcut de mult și este cît se poate de îndreptățită. Umorul cărții este demențial.

Tolstaia prezintă o societate post-apocaliptică (post-prăpăd, aluzia e la catastrofa de la Cernobîl), bîntuită de o pasăre malefică, nevăzută și obsedantă, al cărei nume se regăsește în titlul cărții. Nimeni nu cutează să pătrundă în pădurile din jurul orașului Fiodor Kuzminsk de teama de a nu-i sări Zâtul în ceafă. În al doilea rînd, locuitorii se tem de ceceni :) Oamenii trăiesc sub o despotism bezmetic, de comedie neagră. Își duc viața în condiții mizere și se hrănesc cu „foculeandri”, un soi de „curmale radioactive”, dulci și zemoase. La felul doi mănîncă o minunată „supă de șoareci”. Oamenii au suferit malformații grave, unii au gheare în loc de unghii, alții își poartă urechile subsuoară, unii au creste de cocoș. Nimeni nu crîcnește. Nimeni nu simte că este rob.

Mîrzacul suprem (Fiodor Kuzmici) are două ocupații principale: stabilește prin decret cînd începe anul nou (dacă vrea El, poate începe pe 1 martie sau pe 5 septembrie, depinde de inspirație) și compune cărți fără nici un înțeles, copiind la întîmplare din diverși autori. În rest, veghează zi și noapte, nu închide un ochi, fiindcă (zic supușii) își face griji din pricina lor: oare guguștiucii au mîncat, oare au dormit suficient, oare sînt mulțumiți, nu cumva au vreun necaz?

Protagonistul se numește Benedikt și iubește nespus arta cititului. Pasiunea lui îl va împinge la crimă. Seamănă cu lacheul Petrușka din Suflete moarte: citește absolut orice, fără să aibă vreo preferință anume și fără să gîndească la ceea ce citește. Citește ca să citească, așa cum alcoolicul bea ca să bea. Nu-i trece nici un gînd prin cap, cărțile nu-l împing la vreo reflecție. Nu judecă autorii. Toți i se par desăvîrșiți și, cînd toți autorii sînt desăvîrșiți, toți sînt perfect indiferenți.

Dar ce este terifiantul Zât? Iată doar una dintre descrieri:

„La nord sînt păduri dese... În aceste păduri, spun bătrînii, trăiește Zâtul. El stă pe ramurile întunecate și țipă sălbatic, jalnic: Zî-hîîîî! Zî-hî-hîîîîî! Nu-l poate vedea nimeni. Trece omul prin pădure și el hop! în ceafa lui. Și îl apucă de șira spinării cu dinții - hîrști! - și prinde cu ghearele vena cea mare și o sfîșie, și iese toată mintea din el. Și cînd se întoarce nu mai e același, nici ochii nu-i mai sînt la fel și merge la întîmplare, fără să știe încotro, de exemplu, ca somnambulii care merg în somn la lumina lunii”.

Negreșit, Zâtul este o capodoperă. Și e păcat să nu citiți acest roman.

Recenzia la prima ediție (din 2006) o puteți inspecta aici:
Profile Image for Nataliya.
782 reviews12.5k followers
April 25, 2023

Few books terrify me to the depths of my soul as much as this postapocalytic tale full of bleakly-black humor and dark satire, set amongst the radioactive desolation of Moscow Fyodor-Kuzmichsk - which is sunk low in degradation and regression, with economy dependent on mice-hunting, with a lone half-finished statue of Pushkin pushkin stuck in between vegetable plots, with ignorance and superstition ruling it all. Welcome to the world of The Slynx!

What makes this book so terrifying to me is how accurately it captures the darkness that inhabits the souls of your everyday average humans, the darkness that makes us hang our heads in shame for our little pathetic human race. These traits are hidden right under the surface - naked power hunger, greed, xenophobia, extreme egoism, glee at others' misery, hatred of anything different... These are always there, lurking in depths of the human soul - individual and collective - just barely reigned in, barely forced underground by the influence of science and literature and medicine and technology and social conscience? But what if the social structures that contained these horrors of humanity collapsed, and resulting destruction of existing culture, regression, and ignorance allowed the worst to come out?

Tatyana Tolstaya brilliantly depicts the results of such destruction. It's been 200 years after the nuclear Blast, and what once was a city of Moscow is now a big village of Fyodor-Kuzmichsk (named after its current ruler, of course - until he is unseated). The effects of radiation are on the borderline between terrifying and outright comical. The economy is sustained on hunting mice, and as far as cultural life goes - well, the scribes make handwritten copies of a mishmash of books (supposedly written by Fyodor Kuzmich, of course) ranging from fairy tales to literary classics to logarithmic tables, and the dreaded red-robed Sanitars are omnipresent to take you away for the 'Healing' if you're found to be harboring a book from before the Blast.

Take out the radiation side effects, and this can almost be the world of deep Russia centuries ago - the world that is so remote to us and yet so uncomfortably close at the same time. People live in huts, burn candles, do a bit of agriculture and hunting (well, mostly mice, really), there are serfs, the wheel has been recently invented, as well as that new-fangled device for carrying buckets of water from the well (attributed, of course, to Fyodor Kuzmich), boats have been recently invented as well, men beat wives for fun and out of boredom, the strangers are feared and fought with, and superstition permeates every aspect of people's lives... This is the world in which Benedikt, a scribe and an innocent creator of pushkin monument, discovers that he loves reading books, and that there is only ONE correct answer to the 'burning' question (pun intended) - which item would you take out of a burning house first?

And this brings me to what I think is the most important theme in this otherwise entertaining but ordinary postapocalyptic story - the importance of MEMORY. People are nothing without it. Memory is what provides the framework, the context for our actions. Memory is what this ruined world lacks - even though there are people from "before", belonging to a variety of Soviet social classes, almost magically prevented from dying. However, these 'former' people seem more concerned with reminiscing about the past and complaining about the present, and do little of value - unless you consider talking about social injustices and putting up signs with the names of long-gone streets and the half-finished monument to Pushkin, which the locals use for securing their clotheslines. With the memory of the past gone, there is no context to any of these. Pushkin is just, well, 'pushkin', lower-case, a random unnecessary statue, a symbol of something ungraspable, unneeded, un-understood; the sign for Arbat or Nikolskie Vorota is worth no more than 'Vitya was here' sloppily carved out below it, and any book is just a collection of empty printed words. They are nothing without the context of memory.
"In the web of the streets, pushkin stood like a small black stick, and like a thin thread was from high above a clothesline, wrapped like a noose around the poet's neck."
This is where I think Tolstaya is brilliant. The idea of a protagonist's world changing once he discovers the miracle of books is not new. What's great here is her approach to it - the idea that all the books in the world mean nothing without the context of memory, without which even Hamlet can be easily interpreted as, perhaps, the story of an unsuccessful mice hunt or something of the sorts. In order to beat the ignorance you need more than just ability to mechanistically read - you need to be able to understand and learn, otherwise reading can be quite dangerous, actually. In order to achieve any kind of enlightenment you need to first learn the 'alphabet' - which is not as simple and straightforward as poor naive Benedikt may think (by the way, I'm not sure how it was done in the English translation, but in Russian, the chapters of the book are titled with the names of the letters of the old Russian alphabet. I thought it was quite neat).

The language of this book is a treat (at least to those who read Russian). The medieval peasant-like feel of the language with some twisted and half-forgotten neologisms of 'recent past' is quite fun and unsettling at the same time. And almost on every page there are allusions to the classics of the literature, including, of course, Alexander Pushkin, creating wonderful, delicious subtext and context. I can only hope that the translation managed to capture the feel of the original, since otherwise it'd be a loss to the overall feel and message of the story. And let us not forget the constant references to relatively recent Russian politics, that give this story a sharp edge of political farce in addition to everything else it is.

4.5 stars is the verdict. It fell just a bit short of absolutely loving it, perhaps because of the slow build up in the first half of the book that reminded quite a bit of the standard postapocalyptic/dystopian fare. Also, I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about the ending (is it the only possible way for it to end - or a cop-out? Time will, maybe, tell). I recommend it highly, however - it is a true gem of the genre.
And special thanks to Jeffrey Keeten, whose excellent review prompted me to reread this book (and without the reread, I would not have understood nearly as much as I had the second time around).
"...Как же нет? А чем же говоришь, чем плачешь, какими словами боишься,какими кричишь во сне? Разве не бродят в тебе ночные крики, глуховатое вечернее бормоталово, свежий утренний взвизг? Вот же оно, слово, - не узнал? - вот же оно корячится в тебе, рвется вон! Это оно! Это твое! Так из дерева, из камня, из коряги силится, тщится наружу глухой, желудочный, нутряной мык и нык, - извивается обрубок языка, раздуты в муке вырванные ноздри. Так гуняво гундосят заколдованные, побитые, скрюченные, с белыми вареными глазами, запертые в чуланах, с вырванной жилой, с перекушенной хребтиной; так, верно, и пушкин твой корячился, али кукушкин, - что в имени тебе моем? - пушкин-кукушкин, черным кудлатым идолом взметнувшийся на пригорке, навечно сплющенный заборами, по уши заросший укропом, пушкин-обрубок, безногий, шестипалый, прикусивший язык, носом уткнувшийся в грудь, - и головы не приподнять! - пушкин, рвущий с себя отравленную рубаху, веревки, цепи, кафтан, удавку, древесную тяжесть: пусти, пусти! Что, что в имени тебе моем? Зачем кружится ветр в овраге? чего, ну чего тебе надобно, старче? Что ты жадно глядишь на дорогу? Что тревожишь ты меня? скучно, Нина! Достать чернил и плакать! От��орите мне темницу! Иль мне в лоб шлагбаум влепит непроворный инвалид? Я здесь! Я невинен! Я с вами! Я с вами!"
(Sorry for the long Russian quote. I love it so much, but it was too much to translate while still preserving the beauty of the original. Usually, I translate the quotes from the books I read in Russian myself, but this one was too much for me to tackle.)

Recommended by: Jeffrey Keeten
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
March 25, 2020
i have a long and troubled relationship with the russians. for years i didn't want to read them because i felt that i wouldn't understand them with their troubled political history, their interchangeable names, their fucking ability to endure that is so intimidating and making-me-small-feeling. and then i read bulgakov. and i felt a little more confident...then i got a little older and i thought...maybe i'm ready for some dostoevsky...and then i wondered what i had been so worried about, because it was all so accessible. then in my twenties i read kurkov, solzhenitsyn, nabokov, makine, zamyatin, chekhov... i have been around the russian block, my friends...and yet...there's still this barrier between us. i feel like there is so much subtext i am just missing...that unless you are russian, there is something gently exclusionary about the writing - that you could know all there is to know about russia and its history and its peoples and still - this is not intended for you. anyway, this book was very good but i'm sure that a real russian would appreciate it in some more deeply personal way than i ever could.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Matthias.
107 reviews351 followers
June 27, 2017
No matter which way you look at it, The Slynx is a strange and furtive creature. Concocted by an obscure descendant of one of the Greats, this beast possesses a significance we instinctively fear. We feel it lodged in our bones, we feel it slithering between the tiny hairs on our arms and on the back of our necks, we feel it gnawing at the base of our minds, we feel it cocooning in our hearts. Some brave readers set out on the expedition to find its lair. A few came back, wide-eyed with wonder and with many a tale to tell.

As a valiant voyager, I too wanted to glimpse this shadow. Hiding beyond the barren Siberian plains in a forest thick with thorns and teeth, it shrieked its name. Slyyynx. Slyyyynx. Ignoring my misgivings I set out to follow the cry that would lead me to its den.

My journey had a promising start. I found a guide, a quirky fellow by the name of Benedikt, who was as endearing as he was eccentric. His childlike candor was refreshing and as he pointed out the finer points of the dystopia he was living in I became enraptured by the sights and intrigued by this post-apocalyptic society. The mutants that inhabit it, some of them immortal firebreathing Oldeners from before the Blast, added colour to the grim painting of a fledgling economy based on dry weeds and rodents.

Unfortunately, Benedikt lost the way at some point. He got drunk on rusht, started uttering experimental jibberish disguised as meaningful metaphors and ran in circles, widening, but never going anywhere. I completely lost sight of him, got word that he married rich and developed an all-consuming passion for books, but couldn't make heads or tails of it all. The last thing I heard was that he was close to a fire that basically destroyed almost everything and everyone around him. The reasons for the fire remain unclear, much like everything else. Others, maybe more well-read russophiles, can perhaps make sense of Benedikt's ramblings, which probably have a significant connection with Russian history. I, on the other hand, find myself confined to a wonderment whether or not I dreamt it all.

And the Slynx? I never found it. Worse still, I can no longer hear its lonely shriek.
Profile Image for MJ Nicholls.
2,049 reviews4,117 followers
June 20, 2011
This exceptional little pearl should go straight atop your reading list, knocking off that willowy story collection, those fat-arsed historical doorstoppers, and that free verse thing carved into tree bark. Get rid of them all. Put them in a glorious bonfire and read this instead.

The granddaughter of Leo T has all the talent of her antecedent, cribbing also the mordant wit of Bulgakov, the lyrical euphony of Nabokov, the despairing glamour of Zamyatin. The Slynx is a first-rate novel on all fronts: original and captivating in its form, succulent and rib-tickling in its prose, dark and prophetic in its subtext, sutured together with sugary feasts of stylistic invention that would make even the illiterate smile.

A book about now, about the past, about the future—this book time travels, this book inhabits the fourth dimension. Read it now.
Profile Image for Jaguar Kitap.
45 reviews273 followers
November 16, 2020
Prospero Kitaplığı dizimizin yeni kitabı. Çok yakında, "BÖCÜ" adıyla Eyüp Karakuş'un Rusça aslından çevirisiyle yayımlayacağız.
Profile Image for Spencer Orey.
557 reviews140 followers
October 19, 2018
Wow i don't think a book has ever made me laugh this hard before.

Endlessly clever writing. Extremely bleak but it's never too much so.

Really stands out in the post-apocalyptic genre.
Profile Image for Aubrey.
1,359 reviews794 followers
December 17, 2015
Let him stand there strong and safe, his legs in chains, head in the clouds, his face to the south, to the endless steppe, to the far-off dark blue seas.
I am absolutely convinced that everyone must read this book. Unfortunately, unlike that other book I said the same of, Les Misérables, I have no great moral undertakings or social justice to spur readers forward with. No musical either. Not even a movie. Instead, I have an old review, a few big name references, and ah yes. Logos. Lots of that, as per usual.

By the way, the ‘old’ review is a little more than two years in longevity, and is the type of construct that doesn’t astound me, per se, as much as give me the feeling of, huh. Younger self wasn’t as nearly as lost or confused or failing in general as I thought. Good job, younger self. I can still feel you in there, somewhere, much as Benedikt near the end of the book still has the essence of Benedikt at the beginning of the book. I do hope my evolving into my current self wasn’t nearly as, well, how did you put it, younger self.

...the progression the main character goes from man to monster. 1984 has nothing on how easily he slips into the mindset of what he fears above all else…the transition beautiful in its slick descent…

Let me reiterate: good job, younger self.

The mention of 1984 reminds me that there is a book here waiting patiently to slynx its way into future brains and diabolical temperaments of the literature kind, so let’s get some of the standard dry stuff out of the way, shall we, in the form of stating that this is a Russian dystopic novel. I’m going to let that simmer while I expound on what that actually means for us, the readers, during our journey through said novel, a novel so subsumed in the mind of the character, the character so melded with their world, the world so saturated in that feeling of, yes, this is life after the destruction when the wisps of culture flurrying down are starting to collide with the aborted imaginative risings of the populace, that you have to wonder where Tatyana Tolstaya got that time machine, and more importantly, how the hell she made her way back in both time and prose.

Although the truth of the matter is, you take one look at said Benedikt character, the star of this post-apocalyptic tragi-comedy as only the Russians can write them, and you know it’s all the author. As put by younger self:

It is much more concerned with the mentality of the populace, the complete ignorance and great practicality the denizens of this fallout zone are capable of.

Too true. And this practicality does not include putting the mind down with pen with any measure of accuracy or skill. However, I wish to add that Benedikt is a special type, prone in his words to being ‘newrottick’ and an especial victim of ‘feelosophy’, where all the raucously hilarious ignorance and practicality cannot save him when his mind, ever grasping onto reality with conjectures and explanations and densely woven meanderings of thought, begins to shiver in the dark under an eye unseen. Fear is the price of imagination, and Benedikt has been cursed to wander a realm where esoteric political discussions trickle down through the mouths of radiation-stricken immortals, culture has schizophrenicked into scraps and bits of precious knowledge that where not lost are laughably, horribly misunderstood, and the only solution to the excess of imagination is a book.

This book. This book describes the addiction to literature I have in excruciating detail. It makes me appreciate the wealth of knowledge I have in comparison to the main character, for what is reading if you don't understand it?

Indeed, younger self. Indeed. For Benedikt is not only driven by the tentacles of his neurons towards an item that his civilization has the most complex relations with of any object (someone along the line read 1984 and began to fear Freethinking and all its delicious growths, also known as the Illness, more deadly than radioactivity and guaranteed to get you ‘treatment’), there’s a good chance he has photographic memory. For him, a book is as good as a shot of the purest cocaine, as easily reused once the silt has slipped the vein and bounded amongst the blood, and far, far less easy to replenish. When he has it, he has all the abject lack of caring of the mentality most indebted to Brave New World, and reality fades to a speck in the corner of that lack. When he doesn’t, oh. As said previously, 1984 cannot even begin to compare.

And in the words of Benedikt, mor-allity? He knows the Law of Everyone’s a Thief, he knows the Comedic Game of Broken Limbs and Injuries Stopping Short at Death, he knows the Governmental Approach to Dirty, Grimy Golbuchiks with books, precious books hidden away in their dank and filthy izbas, sitting, molding, rotting, handled by ignorance and by fear. He functions along emotions that barely register in his mind and thought patterns that strain at genius with the tools of a haphazard enlightenment that has only a decrepit world and blind society to work with.

But mor-allity? Can you eat it without dying? Drink it? Use it to catch mice aka staplehood of stable exchange of goods? Well then, what use is it?
Golbuchiks? Golbuchiks are ashes, entrails, dung, stove smoke, clay, and they’ll all return to clay. They’re full of dirt, candle oil, droppings, dust.
You, O Book, my pure, shining precious, my golden singing promise, my dream, a distant call—
O tender specter, happy chance,
Again I heed the ancient lore,
Again with beauty rare in stance,
You beckon from the distant shore!
Benedikt will discover just what use it is. And you, reader who has ridden along in his mind and, as a lover of books, can empathize with the slow change and maybe perhaps further along the increasingly gory path than you wished, can follow. You’ll laugh at the antics, to be sure. But there’s so much more to the tragi-comedy for a lover of literature for one such as yourself, if you can bear to look.


Younger self's review:


This book. This book describes the addiction to literature I have in excruciating detail. It makes me appreciate the wealth of knowledge I have in comparison to the main character, for what is reading if you don't understand it?
Also, post apocalyptic at its best. No drowning in scientific garble describing the desiccated toxic surroundings. It is much more concerned with the mentality of the populace, the complete ignorance and great practicality the denizens of this fallout zone are capable of. You never find out much of what exactly happened, but frankly, that's not what counts here.
What counts is the progression the main character goes from man to monster. 1984 has nothing on how easily he slips into the mindset of what he fears above all else, all for the sake of the written word. God forbid books be as scarce and prized as they are in this world; one could hope they were valued in the real world as much as they are in this novel, but it's frightening to consider the consequences.
In addition to the transition beautiful in its slick descent are the emotional overtones, the hilarious vulgarity juxtaposed with the overwhelming depression that surfaces every so often. It is loss conveyed at its best, despair over having lost a world of light and having to grind out an existence among the remains; worst of all being able to feel the emotion but not be able to comprehend the reason behind it.
A very good read. Will definitely get you thinking, if nothing else.
Profile Image for Megha.
79 reviews1,093 followers
August 7, 2013

The Pace of Modern Life [xkcd] -- In 1871, someone expressed concern about how the art of letter-writing was fast dying out. In 1895, someone was worried about how the hurry and excitement of modern life was causing mental and nervous degeneration. In 1907, there was concern about every individual's head being buried in a magazine while they sat together as a family. Now a days, of course, we hear about the curse of the smartphones, 140 character limit on communication and dwindling inter-personal interactions. Yes, time continues to change. People are nostalgic about what is being left behind, there is excitement and apprehension about new developments, people adapt and keep inching forward. But no matter how much life changes, there still are certain aspects of human nature that endure all the way. (If you don't agree, David Mitchell may have something to say to you, and so does Tatyana.)

Time keeps moving forward. Except that one time when THE BLAST wiped off the civilization in Moscow and set the clock backwards. People were reduced to a very primitive lifestyle, hunting mice for food. Appliance manuals became relics of the past. Ignorance was rampant. The concepts of free thinking, feelings and morality were alien. What did survive was man's greed and hunger for power. There remained major class differences and a huge imbalance in wealth distribution. While those in positions of power fed themselves well, they followed the motto Keep them hungry. Keep them foolish. when it came to the general population.

In The Slynx, Tatyana plays out a struggle between man's desire for finer things in life and eager-to-overpower vices. Benedikt, the protagonist, one of the commoners, often found himself overwhelmed with anguish and a longing for he didn't know what. There was something he wanted for, but it was too much for his simple mind to understand what that could be or how to escape this feeling.
"But in Novemeber the rains start falling and just keep on and on and on - eeeeee!. Everything is murky between heaven and earth, and your soul is clouded over too! The roof leaks if it's thin; cold and damp blow in through the cracks. You cover the window with rags, you slump closer to the stove, or doze on the stove bed, and something inside cries, and keeps on crying!"

He found an answer when a life-changing twist put him in the company of books. His spirits lifted as he devoured them. So was that it? Was this refinement, a better intellectual and emotional life what he had been desperate for? Tatyana's answer to this is a pessimistic one. Once he was through all the books, the baser instincts that were dormant in him rose up. No, art couldn't win over his pre-disposition. A simpleton gradually transformed into something grotesque. It was rather impressive how convincingly the author handled this transformation (someone please tell George Orwell).

There is much to love about The Slynx. When you think of a post-apocalyptic setting, you immediately imagine a bleak world swaddled in fifty shades of grey. The Slynx, on the contrary, is charming, imaginative, humorous and colorful. The people are endearing despite their naive, crude and often brutal manners. Nikita elicits sorrow with his attempts to keep the past alive, to hold on to the bare threads. Some of my favorite moments were when Benedikt would feel the hand of the Slynx tap him on the shoulder and a dreary feeling would dawn over him. The times when he would dream of dissolving into the world beyond what he had seen, but lacking in imagination would fail to put a picture together. And Benedikt feeling sad when the fox gobbled up the Gingerbread Man in the story - how heartwarming was that!

It's a shame that I couldn't connect better with this book. I can hardly find anything wrong with it. Just that for more than half the book, Tatyana only builds the setting, establishing and re-establishing the same ideas. By the time the story switched gears in the second half, it was too late. I had already kind of checked out by then.

But really, don't mind the three stars. This book ought to be read and adored.

Book-jacket Trivia: Tatyana Tolstaya is a great-grandniece of Leo Tolstoy.
Profile Image for Ints.
749 reviews74 followers
April 25, 2022
Šo grāmatu pirmoreiz izlasīju pirms diviem gadiem, pirms pašas pandēmijas - patika, ļoti patika. Vēl nodomāju, žēl, ka tā lasāma tikai krieviski un diez vai tulkotājam izdotos pārnest visu tās kolorītu mūsu mēlē. Tas būtu tikpat kā mēģināt pēc neīstu ugurķēnu saēšanās mēģināt saprast koceni. Tādēļ biju patīkami pārsteigts, kad uzzināju par izdevniecības Prometejs (Lai slava viņiem!) plāniem izdot šo grāmatu latviski. Nācās izlasīt vēlreiz latviski, pat neskatoties uz to, ka man vēl mājās ir palikušas nelasītas grāmatas un Benedikta izmisums man vēl nedraud.

Reizēm naktī tu pamodies klusumā un satraukts uzdod sev jautājumu: “Kāpēc nevar dzirdēt peles?”. To, ka tu esi sācis dzīvot garīgu dzīvi tādā pusnomodā nemaz uzreiz nevar apjēgt, jo cilvēku jau velk atpakaļ pie saknēm. Šī grāmata pilnībā ataino mīlīša dzīvi no apsviedīga Fjodrkuzmičas iedzīvotāja Benedikta līdz patiesam garīgās dzīves dzīvotājam. Benedikts ir cilvēks ar gaišu galvu un arī Seku viņam nav. Māmuļa piedzimusi pirms Sprādziena un šai saulē nodzīvoja 233 gadus. Par laimi viņa tēvs bija jau pēcsprādziena bērns un izaudzināja Benediktu par kārtīgu vīru. Nu tādu, kurš zina, ka sabiedrības pamatā ir pele. No tās gan zupu var izvārīt, kažoku uzšūt un peļu tauku sveces gaismā kādu tāšu gāmatiņu izlasīt.

Pasaule ir mainījusies - ir noticis Sprādziens, un viss iepriekšējais ir aizslaucīts mēslainē. Fjodrkuzmiča ir patiess jaunās civilizācijas šūpulis, kurā valda Fjodrs Kuzmičs, lai slava viņam! Mīlīši dara savas ikdienas lietas un rātni izpilda virspavēlniecibas Ukazus, jo kurš gan vēlas, lai pēc viņa atbrauktu Sanitāri? Sanitāri ir vajadzīgi, viņi cīnās pret tautas atpalicību un neizglītotību. Vai tirgus dienā mīlīši nevar no murzām pa pāris pelēm nopirkt uz tāšu grāmatiņas, kuras sacerējis pats Fjodrs Kuzmičš, lai ilgs viņa mūžs, vai Fjodrs Kuzmičš , lai slava viņam, nerūpējas lai tautas prāti kļūtu gaišāki? Rūpējas - grāmatas galvenais varonis Benedikts ir viens no šiem pārrakstītājiem. Bet ko dara mīlīši? Viņi grāmatas, kas nāk no pirmSprādziena laikiem, pūdē zem lāvas, ierok mitrā bedrē, plēš ārā lapas tin papirosus un izmanto kā vāciņus cibām. Grāmatu vairs nebūs, autori ir miruši un nekad vairs neviens neuzrakstīts “Armēnijas zvīņspārņu” piekto izdevumu. Atpalikušajai tautai to nekad nesaprast, un tādēļ ir ukazi un Sanitāri.

Grāmata ir distopija un, manuprāt, tā zināmā mērā sasaucas ar apjukumu, kas tautā valdīja pēc PSRS sabrukuma, kad cilvēki bija uz īsu brīdi atstāti bez ukaziem un Sanitāriem, varēja uzreiz manīt, ka mīlīši paši par sevi nemaz dzīvot nemāk. Cilvēkiem tika dota iespēja lasīt visu, ko vien viņi vēlas, un atklājās brīnumu lietas. Mums visiem kaut kādā mērā piemīt Benedikta kaite, caur kuru izlasītais tiek uztvers burtiski un teksta interpretācija nemaz nav tik biežs viesis lasīšanas procesā, pa lielam ir viss viens, vai lasa Ziemeļu vēstnesi vai Pinumus, nenotiek nekādas sistematizācijas un jauno zināšanu ielikšanu kādā lielākā pasaules uztveres kopainā. Es padsmit gadu vecumā noteikti biju īsts Benedikts, kuram galvenais bija, lasāmais nevis tā kvalitāte. Tādēļ labi sapratu viņa sāpi, brīdī, kad lasāmais aptrūkās, arī man dzīvē ir nācies vērsties uz nosacīto “stepi”, kur bez čečeniem ir atrodamas arī jaunas grāmatu krātuves.

Ja no lasīšanas viedokļa tad otro reizi pārlasot, man tāpat kā pirmajā reizē, pirmā grāmatas puse izrāvās vienā paņēmienā, jo tur jau viss tā idilliski ar humoru, mīlīši jautrojas, dzīvo savu dzīvi un tu tāds pāri visiem smejies par viņu aprobežotību, viegli lasīt. Pēc kāzām gan, kad autore sāk ķerties klāt nopietnām tēmām un tu kā lasītājs sāc apjaust, ka arī pats nemaz neesi tāds murza kā sevi saskati, tad kļūst nedaudz grūtāk. Jo kuram gan ir viegli sevi pārlauzt un iedomāties tādu ķecerību, ka pele varbūt nemaz nav sabiedrības pamats.

Grāmatai lieku 10 no 10 ballēm, teicams lasāmais. Liels paldies jāsaka arī tās tulkotājam Arvim Kolmanim, kurš ir izdarījis visu iespējamo, lai to lasītājs varētu uztvert tāpat kā oriģinālu!
Profile Image for Veronica.
69 reviews32 followers
April 4, 2021
Minunat roman!

O distopie ce se petrece într-un loc care cu 200 de ani în urmă purtase numele de Moscova.
Mi-a plăcut mult stilul Tatianei Tolstaia, strănepoată a lui Lev Tolstoi; oralitatea proaspătă, imaginația debordantă și mai ales capacitatea incredibilă de a reda tragicomicul. Să te tot amuzi când şoarecii sunt monedă de schimb, că tot ei, fierţi în şapte ape, fac o supă comestibilă, sau prăjiţi sunt o delicatesă rară, nu prea pare ușor. Dar dacă o citeşti pe Tolstaia povestind, cu greu poţi să îţi stăpâneşti râsul.

Atâtea simboluri, personaje care stârnesc râsul și curiozitatea şi atâtea interpretări posibile fac ca acest roman să primeasca din partea mea:
5 ⭐+
Profile Image for Inderjit Sanghera.
450 reviews90 followers
June 24, 2018
A feeling of desolation pervades the atmosphere of the post-apocalyptic world in which 'The Slynx' is set; a world of drudgery and paranoia, of bleakness beneath which lurks a violence and insurrection as what we would loosely describe as the protagonist-Benedikt develops a sense of self-awareness via the books he reads; snatches of Anna Karenina and her realisation of the shallow emptiness of society, of the subtle sadness and dimpled beauty of Chekhov, of the indescribable joy of holding a book in your hand, its feel, its touch and smell, the ideas it propagates, how it opens Benedict's eyes to the beauty of the world, from the swirl of dust in the the sun-light to the vastness of the night sky or of it's chameleon like ability to transform Benedikt into the character he is reading about. Yet reading is a double-edged sword; whilst it opens Benedick's eyes to beauty it also opens it to banality; the banality of the world around him, of his marriage and family, of his foul-mouthed father-in-law and vulgar, vapid wife and corpulent mother-in-law, of the tedious, tepid Fyodor Kuzmich, the diminutive ruler of the world Benedikt inhabits and who Benedict ends up over-throwing and replacing with a far more violent and arbitrary tyranny.

'The Slynx' is set in a post-apocalyptic world where an unspecified nuclear attack has rendered the population hopelessly disfigured and dis-formed. It would be difficult not to acknowledge the obvious metaphor for the overthrow of the old world of Russia and its replacement with the Soviet state; Blok was replaced by blockheads, the wonders of its theatre by the turgidity of Soviet dramas, its high culture, within which it was the leading light of all art-forms, from literature to ballet, replaced by the dry, mechanical and tedious political literature of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless Benedikt's awakening allows him to render the world around him with a kind of elegant, elegiacal beauty;

"Near the ground everything was blue as blue could be, and up above, the sky shone even and yellow, smoldering it's last; every now and then a swipe of pink would tint the yellow, or a gray cloud woudl stretch like a spindle, hang there a bit until its top would stain raspberry, flare, and be gone. Like someone was rubbing the sunset, smearing it with his fingers."

A wonderful exploration not only of the joys of reading, but also the feelings of isolation and alienation it can engender, a dark and dreary exploration of a world stripped of it's humanity and, most importantly, a story bursting with verve and imagination beneath the bleakness, 'The Slynx' is an interesting take on the post-apocalyptic novel. 
Profile Image for Austra.
644 reviews74 followers
March 22, 2022
Visas mazas pelītes pušķīti sien astītē! Vai arī viņu astītes sien pušķītī - kā nu sanāk.

Šo grāmatu piemeklēja Grāmatu kluba lāsts - kad kādu grāmatu tik šausmīgi saliela, tad ekspektācijas izaug pārāk... Nu tādas, kādām pati grāmata dažreiz netiek līdzi. Nav jau arī tā, ka esmu dikti vīlusies, bet es visu grāmatas lasīšanas laiku kaut ko gaidīju un gaidīju, bet tā arī nesagaidīju. Laikam kaut kādu Lielo Notikumu, kas nāks tad, kad Beņa atklās kādu milzu grāmatu slēptuvi, kāda Grāmata atvērs viņam jaunus sapratnes Apvāršņus vai ko tādā garā, es pat nezinu, ko biju iefantazējusi. Tas ir vienīgais, kas man te pietrūka - tāda lielāka Notikuma, jo te pat lielie notikumi kļūst vien ikdienišķi. Šos notikumus gan nevaru atstāstīt, jo tad sanāks kārtējais maiteklis, un to nu mēs negribētu.

Bet ja neskaita šo nelielo sižetisko vilšanos, kas cēlās no iedomām, tad reku viss, par ko neesmu vīlusies - lieliskā ironija par strauji pagrimušo civilizāciju, tās praviešiem (tētiņiem, lai laba veselība viņiem, lai viņu atstātajās pēdiņās puķītes uzplaukst un taurentiņi padzeras nektāriņu!), tas smiekls par apjautu, kāpēc nevajag ēst spīdošos ugurķēnus, brīnišķīgais gan jauno laiku, gan veco laiku ļaužu attēlojums ar visām viņu īpatnībām. Un tulkojums! Kolmani uz LaLiGaBu! Tā valoda! Vnk končiņa. Iesaku un iesaku.
Profile Image for Anete.
447 reviews64 followers
August 2, 2022
Īsumā - šī ir antiutopija, kur krievu dzejas un prozas klasiķi pēc atomsprādziena gan vēl ir lasāmi, bet viņu tekstu jēgu vairs neviens nesaprot. Jautājums, vai tā maz ir tāla pēckodolsprādziena nākotne vai jau mūsdienas, rodas visiem, kas ir Ukrainas/Reālās pasaules informācijas telpā. Un galvenais varonis Beņa manu draugu vidū jau būs folklorizējies.
Tulkojums ir apbrīnojams - viltīgais, bet gardais “ugurķēns”, zaķis, kas nemaz nav zaķis, ja spriež pēc tā dzīvošanas paradumiem kokos, daudzās atsauces un skaidrojumi par literāro darbu citātiem, nenovērtējami. Bet kaut kā nedaudz pietrūkst sižetā tādi aktīvāki notikumi, kas noteikti ir ļoti subjektīva prasība.
Profile Image for Sine.
319 reviews341 followers
November 27, 2022
şimdi bu güzelim kitabı üç hafta elimde süründürmemişçesine, yarınlar yokmuş gibi öveceğim; hazır olun.

öncelikle, şuraya bir değinmeden rahat edemeyeceğim; iki tür reading slump vardır: kitap yüzünden girilen ve kitaba rağmen girilen. ben bu kitabı okurken ikincisini yaşadım. olur öyle, insanız sonuçta, makine gibi her gün 500 sayfa okuma iddiam yok. sadece bu uzun uzadıya okumamın sebebini belirtmek istiyorum; güzelmiş ama zor okunuyormuş sanmayın, çekinmeyin diye. bilakis çok akıcı, ve çok eğlenceli. kahkaha attığım oldu çok defa.

gelelim kitabın kendisine. rusya’da bir “patlama” olmuş: besbelli bir nükleer patlama. ve geride kalan tüm toplum ortaçağ düzeyine geri dönmüş durumda, üstelik türlü mutasyonlar ve neye göre olduğu yeniden tanımlanan sosyal statülerle. güzellik algısı baştan yaratılmış, “eskiyi” hatırlayan, ananlarla dalga geçiliyor, fare standart bir besin olmuş (evet camus evet kaçamadım senden evet sus), adetler usuller karman çorman olmuş… detayıyla anlatmak istemiyorum, özetle çok güzel, her detayıyla hayal edilmiş ve kurgulanmış bir distopya böcü.

ve bütün bu can pazarının içinde hem eskilerin, hem eskiyi hiç görmemişlerin edebiyatla ilişkisini okumak çok eğlenceli. rus edebiyatından öyle güzel şairleri, şiirleri, yazarları, eserleri öyle doğru anlara yerleştirmiş ki tolstaya, edebiyattan zevk alan birinin mutlu olmaması imkansız. bazen kahkaha atarak okudum, bazen gözlerim doldu. tolstaya ile karşılıklı sabahlara kadar övmemiz gereken konulardan biri rus edebiyatı ise bir diğeri kitaplar. kitap okumak. okuyacak sonsuz kitabın olması. okumaya ömrün yetmemesi. kitaplara zarar verenleri dövmek istemek.

kitabın biraz da dilini övmek istiyorum çünkü bütün bu başarısını temelinde diliyle kurduğu atmosfere borçlu bence. hatta biraz ileri gideyim: bence tüm “çok iyi” kitapların dille ilgili bir derdi var. tolkien. tolstoy. marias. proust. hepsinde konunun kendisi kadar, hatta belki daha fazla, dil alan kaplıyor, anlatıma temel oluşturuyor. bu kitapta da o geri kalmışlığı, tahammülfersa cahilliği hem anlatım dili ile, hem diyaloglarla çok iyi vermiş tolstaya. nefret ettikleri lider için ağız alışkanlığı ile “sağolsun” demek… yani buna her seferinde gülemezsin sine?

ve dili özelinde de çevirisinin sabahlara dek övülmesi lazım. geri kalmış toplumun şiveleri, sözde “gelişmiş” kesimin gereksiz abartılı kelimeleri, kelime oyunları, dipnotları; hatta ismiyle ilgili açıklama bile… ben banu’nun okuduğu zaman bu kitap hakkında söylediklerinden ilhamla bizim büyük challenge’ımız listesine “çevirisi nedeniyle merak ettiğiniz bir kitap” maddesini yazmıştım, ve bu kitabı da bizzat bu madde için okudum haliyle –muhteşem bir tercih oldu. seneye de “özenli çevirisini okurken zevkten dört köşe olduğunuz bir kitap” diye madde yazıp herkese okutmak isterim açıkçası.

velhasıl jaguar’ın prospero serisinin ve rus alfabesindeki her bir harfin temsil ettiği değerlerin hastasıyım efenim.
Profile Image for Josh.
89 reviews64 followers
September 30, 2010
Besides the meaning of the word "horripilating" ("the erection of hairs on the skin due to cold, fear or excitement"), found on the chocolate-and-lime backmatter of this book's NYRB edition, reading Tolstoya's vision of civilization's hilarious, underwhelming ashes gave me a feeling of gratitude, and also anger that the ostensible genre of this book will allow people to compare it to mechanic nightmares like 1984 and Animal Farm, or even the killer, terrorizing Road. But Russians don't do genre - or rather, all they do is genre, meaning all they do is take the various over-used urinals of western literature and transform them into cornucopias (that's pollen on your hands) so blooming and fetid that closing their covers you feel like Big Anthony sitting on Strega Nona's pot. Lucky boy. Lucky, neckerchief-wearing boy. Or maybe you like books that stop when you say enough? If so, stay away from the Slynx, which is not just a parable so much as a parable that destroys parables (like an evil-mirror version of Mandelstam's reading of Dante's Divine Comedy, in which the terza rima is compared to an airplane that makes airplanes) by reminding us that if we think of literature as a video game whose levels are played once and then played out, instead of a forest whose rocks are things before they stand for things, we will forget how to read. You have to start with the alphabet. The way you learn that is the way you learn the rest. And, as always, beware ye readers the readers of the world.

Profile Image for Oana Brustur.
15 reviews88 followers
May 15, 2016
Distopie + umor + parabola = Genialitate!

Tu, Carte! Numai tu nu înşeli, nu loveşti, nu superi, nu părăseşti! Eşti liniştită, dar râzi, ţipi, cânţi;
eşti supusă, dar uimeşti, aţâţi, ademeneşti; eşti mică, dar în tine sunt popoare fără număr; un pumn de litere, dar, dacă vrei, zăpăceşti pe oricine, îl învârţi cum vrei, îl încurci, faci lacrimile să ţâşnească, tai răsuflarea, sufletul întreg nu e decât o pânză ce flutură în vânt, face valuri, dă din aripi! Şi în piept parcă ti se zvârcoleşte o senzaţie inexprimabilă, bate cu pumnii în uşi, în pereţi: mă sufoc! Dă-mi drumul! Dar cum să-i dai drumul aşa, goală, aspră? În ce cuvinte s-o îmbraci? Nu avem cuvinte, nu le cunoaştem! Suntem ca animalele sălbatice, ca mincinorbii, ca rusalcele — nu avem cuvinte, ci doar un fel de strigăt! Deschizi însă o carte şi iată-le, cuvintele, divine, zburătoare.
Profile Image for Isidora.
262 reviews106 followers
May 14, 2017
I would give ten stars to this book, if I could. It is innovative, funny and frightening and I loved it.

The title of the book, Slynx, is an invented word. There are many such words in this book set up in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, two hundred years after civilization ended in an event known as the Blast. People born after the Blast are deprived of any contemporary commodities and live in a wild land, most of them marked by mutations which they call Consequences. They live mostly on mice and use them as currency and a measure of things. Life is full of fear of unnamed Disease and moreover of mysterious screeching creature Slynx from the woods. Freethinking is forbidden as well as printed books from before the Blast, but there are few Survivors who recall the world as it used to be. In such degraded world lives Benedikt, the narrator, luckily free of mutations and with enough mice to eat and trade on. His travel starts with a comfortable job of transcribing books from the past, but then goes on along the dangerous path of change. Reading, art and real books (yes, “The Slynx” is a tribute to art and literature) flip his world upside down and forces a new beginning.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I was just blown away by its surrealism and originality. Tatjana Tolstaya is a brilliant, skilled writer. Her wonderful prose is dark and funny at the same time. Behind the fun, I ended up worried by book’s prophesy.
Profile Image for Kurkulis  (Lililasa).
453 reviews79 followers
March 1, 2021
А вот плохо ты читал! Тянет дед репку, а вытянуть не может. Позвал бабку. Тянут-потянут, вытянуть не могут. Еще других позвали. Без толку. Позвали мышку — и вытянули репку. Как сие понимать? А так и понимать, что без мыши — никуда. Мышь — наша опора!

Grāmata ir tik daudzslāņaina, ka, iespējams, esmu apjautusi tikai daļu no tiem. Kad ir aizšķirta pēdējā lappuse, šķiet, ka varētu parunāt gan par krievu dvēseli, gan krievu valodu, gan par inteliģenci un valsts iekārtu, gan par neizglītotību un to, ka ar burtu pazīšanu vien ir par maz, lai cilvēk būtu audzināts, par emocionālo inteliģenci vispār nerunājot, varētu runāt par simboliem un par atpazītiem tēliem, par māņticību, ticējumiem un līdzībām (притча), var atpazīt gan cara tētiņu, gan enkvēdešņikus. Ai, daudz tur visa ir! Ne velti autore ir romānu rakstījusi vairāk kā desmit gadus (14). Un nelasiet šo grāmatu pirms gulētiešanas, vēl sapņos filozofēsiet.

Pavisam garš mans izvirdums par grāmatu atrodams šeit: https://wp.me/p9YIQr-IC
Profile Image for Viola.
369 reviews51 followers
March 24, 2020
Krievijas pilsētā (bijušā Maskavā) pirms 200 gadiem ir noticis sprādziens un viss cilvēku dzīvē ir mainījies. Galvenais šo jauno cilvēku sauklis "Peles ir mūsu viss!". Peles or ēdiens, apģērbs, iztikas nodrošinātājs. Sprādziena rezultātā ir notikušas izmanaiņas. Cilvēki ir mutējuši, vienam ir žaunas, citam aste vai galva noklāta ar sekstēm. Margināļi vispār kļuvuši par teju pusdzīvniekiem, kuri velk ratus, brīvajā laikā dzerstās un spēlē kārtis. Ir vēl Vecajie,kuri atceras pirmssprādziena laikus un tad tādi pusizglītotie jaunie cilvēki, kā galvenais varonis Benedikts, kura dzīve mainās,kad viņš atklāj senās grāmatas.
Lieliska valoda, tāds vecās krievu valodas un mūsdienu žargona mikslītis. Kopumā ļoti interesanta un neparasta grāmata.
Profile Image for Ieva.
1,048 reviews80 followers
October 17, 2022
Pašas šausmīgākās grāmatas ir tās, kurām pamatā ir patiesība. Un, lai arī grāmata ir par notikumiem pēc lielā sprādziena, kad visi mīlīši ir atmesti atpakaļ akmens laikmetā un katram ir savas sekas, šī tāda ir. Šausmīgi ir nevis notikumi kā tādi, bet tas, kāda ir sabiedrība tepat blakus (un daļēji jau arī šai pusē robežai).
Profile Image for Zach.
285 reviews296 followers
March 23, 2011
Here is a paragraph from this book:

After the entrance there were more corridors and the sweet smell grew nearer. Glancing upward, Benedikt clasped his hands: books! The shelves were packed with books! Lord Almighty! Saints alive! his knees gave way, he trembled and whined softly: you couldn't read them all in a whole lifetime! A forest of pages, an endless, indiscriminate blizzard, uncounted! Ah...! Ah!!! Aaaaa! Maybe... just maybe... somewhere here... maybe the secret book is here somewhere! The book that tells you how to live, where to go, where to guide the heart! Maybe Fyodor Kuzmich, Glorybe, has found it, and is already reading it: he jumps up on the bed quick as a wink, and just reads and reads! He went and found it, the monster, and he's reading it!! The tyrant! Shit!

Seriously, could someone with a kindle tell me how many exclamation points are in this book? (can kindles do that?)*

Anyway it's 200 years after "the Blast" (nuclear war) ended civilization as we know it and we're in Moscow and everything is decrepit and falling apart and covered in mud and the bureaucracy controls everything and life, as it turns out, isn't that different, which seems to be Tolstaya's point.

Plot? There isn't one.

* While you're at it, why not count the words "whoa" and "yikes" too?
Profile Image for A. Raca.
739 reviews152 followers
July 4, 2021
Bir nükleer patlama sonrası uzak bir gelecekte geçiyor. Hayatta kalabilenle dünya devam ediyor ama insanlık değişmiş, farklı yaratıklar (böcü) ortaya çıkmış.
İnsanlık geri gittiği için dil değişmiş kelimeler farklılaşmış. Yazar bir de ağırlıklı yöresel dille yazmış.
Ancak Rusya'nın yer yer Ege yer yer Akdeniz ağzı konuşulan bölgesinde olmak çoğu zaman yordu. Çeviriyle alakalı tamamen...

"Ha ben şindi gösteririn sağa heğitimi! Gayışı yidin mi görün gününü! Oğluna da köpek adı godun zaten, tüm köye rezil olduğkh."
Profile Image for María Jesús.
91 reviews16 followers
May 24, 2022

Ese es el sonido del miedo; del miedo primitivo, del original, no de un miedo concreto, cortado a la medida de tus circunstancias. Pero no vayáis a creer que éste es un libro de terror, no, esto se parece más a una sátira quijotesca, incluidos sus matices de tratado filosófico sobre la condición humana, su increíble sentido del humor y agudeza psicológica.

¿Y qué, además del miedo, comparten los hombres, no importa de qué tiempo o lugar? El anhelo. El anhelo de algo inaprensible, algo que se te escapa, una intuición vaga pero apremiante que impulsa a buscar lo que en realidad no es nada que se halle fuera de ti mismo, sino un desarrollo de tu propio ser, de tu mente y de tu comprensión del mundo. Los libros se convierten así en la autopista para llegar allí; una autopista de elevado peaje en este caso.

Bueno, pues imaginad todo esto en una distopía postapocalíptica en la edad de piedra: el componente surrealista está servido.

Realmente se trata de una obra extraordinaria, y eso que estoy segura de que en la traducción se debe perder tantísimo de la gracia, el ingenio y la originalidad del lenguaje, las cómicas distorsiones de palabras y conceptos que reflejan el habla de unos seres en un estadio primitivo o, más bien, entre primitivo y descabalado. Todo ello por obra y gracia de “the Blast” (o “el zambombazo”) y sus “consecuencias” visibles ahora en sus propios cuerpos y mente. Un lenguaje que habla de lo elemental, pero contaminado de ecos de un pasado mítico, que no es sino nuestro presente. Puede verse en qué sentido la traducción de un texto así supone todo un reto.

Otro aspecto que seguro no he podido apreciar como corresponde es la cantidad de citas procedentes de fuentes de la literatura rusa o canciones populares, con toda la carga que dichos escritos le aportarán a un hablante ruso.
Con todo y eso, Benedikt te resulta cercano y conocido, sus avatares los de tantos héroes a su pesar, y los villanos, los de siempre… con su cortedad de miras, su zafiedad, su hipocresía y su doblez y, como siempre y por encima de todo, el poder, el gran corruptor.

“He could see everything through this crevice, all human affairs, trivial, cowardly, fussy: all people want is a bit of soup and to bed, but the wind howls, the snowstorm shrieks and the Slynx is in flight; it soars triumphant over the city.
Profile Image for Rowena.
Author 5 books132 followers
July 23, 2016
It took me 100 pages to fall in love with this book. At first I was confused by the second-person narrative butting in all the time, and who was telling this story anyway, Benedikt or a brother or who? And the language was so basic and primitive and there was too much text about catching mice and cooking mice and eating mice and trading mice. And what had happened to Tolstoya's dazzling lyrical style of writing?

And then around page 100, Benedikt escapes poverty, his basic hut, his mice for dinner and marries the girl he's been after for years, Olenka. And he moves in with her nutty, affluent family, and he has everything he's always wanted, the girl, all the food he can eat, a lovely home. But he becomes dissatisfied, because suddenly life feels empty. And he starts to fill this void by reading books.

In this strange world, after 'the blast' books are banned, the common folk believe they are poisonous and that you'll die if you touch one. But Benedikt discovers that the more he reads, the more he wants to know, that the real 'illness is human ignorance'.

Tolstoya has built a fascinating dystopian world, with an oppressive government controlling the people through culture and fear. As Benedikt learns and grows, Tolstoya's prose also becomes more articulate, and it becomes obvious that those pared-back first 100 pages were a clever technique that she employed. There are some great humorous moments that had me chuckling out loud; Olenka lying in bed calling out to Benedikt to come and make love and her dad shouting out 'Lie down and wait. We're having a governmental conversation! About worldviews!' Or when Benedikt and his father-in-law are writing a decree ordering no more than three people can gather together. 'And what if there are six people in a family? Or seven?' Benedikt asks. ... 'Then let them fill out a form, pay a fine, and get permission.' his father-in-law says. It highlights the absurd and random nature of strict 'governmental approaches' through the ages.

There's so much to say really, but I'll just leave you with this excerpt ...

'You, Book! You are the only one who won't deceive, won't attack, won't insult, won't abandon! You're quiet - but you laugh, shout, and sing: you're obedient - but you amaze, tease, and entice; you're small, but you contain countless peoples. Nothing but a handful of letters, that's all, but if you feel like it, you can turn heads, confuse, spin, cloud, make tears spring to the eyes, take away the breath, the entire soul will stir in the wind like a canvas, will rise in waves and flap its wings!'
Profile Image for Vilis.
608 reviews95 followers
April 8, 2022
Labi, ka sižets netraucēja pastaigāties pa Fjodorkuzmičku, iepazīt tās brīnumus, iedzīvotājus un valodu
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