Slapovsky is one of the most versatile of post-Soviet writers.
– Academia Rossica (Russian Writers of 2011)
Aleksey Slapovsky was born in 1957 in the region of Saratov, Russia. After graduating from the Faculty of Philology at the University of Saratov, he worked as a school teacher of Russian language and literature, a truck driver and then a correspondent for Saratov television and radio. He went on to become the editor and head of the literature department at the magazine Volga between 1990-1995.
Slapovsky started his literary career in the 80’s as a dramatist. His first significant work is called Sincere Artist, Unwritten Novel (1990), which struck a chord with the young literary circles in Moscow and St. Petersburg. He made his name with the novel It’s Not Me (Russian title Я НЕ Я) which was short-listed for the prestigious Russian Booker Prize.
Russian Reading Group Selection
The First Second Coming (Первое второе пришествие)
Slapovsky presents a contemporary look at the return of Jesus Christ, through his main character Pyotr. The discovery of his own bizarre abilities start with the realisation he can turn water into vodka – this he can handle. However when he cures a sick man, Pyotr’s gifts start to become a hindrance. Crowds gather everywhere he goes. Will he ever be able to lead a normal and calm life again? Each scene leads us closer to the climactic horror that awaits Pyotr’s Christ-like figure. Can Pyotr overcome his persectors this time around?
Pyotr is depicted as Christ convincingly with his extraordinary kindness made to seem so natural. It begs the question of the existence of a benevolent figure in our society today? There is little overt political or sociological analysis but the events of 1990-93 are recognisably there in the background like when Pyotr promises to overturn the statue of Lenin. There is a sense of people being lost, uprooted and jaded. The world is a dangerous and anarchic place at the time of which the book is set and Slapovsky conveys this with ease – not only in the dialogue between his characters but in the suspicious atmosphere, which looms throughout.
- Aleksey Slapovsky was one of the four Russian authors discussed in the And Other Stories’ 2011 Russian Reading Group, which ran from the 28th February to the 3rd April.
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