From the Solzhenitsyn Prize and Russian Booker Prize winner
In the vast Kazakh steppes of the crumbling Soviet Empire, Alyosha has finished his army service and is promised a gift from his deaf commander: an everlasting steel tooth. As he waits for it in the infirmary, he agrees to help out a medical officer, and they set out on a journey that takes them all the way to the kingdom of the dead.
Oleg Pavlov’s kaleidoscope of a tale is peopled with soldiers and prisoners, hoboes and refugees and mice that steal medicines. Their surreal inner world is vividly reflected in Pavlov’s expressive prose, reminiscent of Platonov. Poetic, tragic and darkly comic, the novel is at once a grotesque portrayal of late Soviet reality and an apocalyptic allegory that has drawn comparisons with Faulkner and Kafka.
Praise for Requiem for a Soldier
- ‘Oleg Pavlov is a powerful writer, and Requiem for a Soldier is his finest work.’ Alla Latynina, Vremya MN
- ‘Russian Booker Prize-winner Pavlov writes with the confident eccentricity of a man who knows what to do with words.’ Jane Andrews, Big Issue
- ‘Requiem for a Soldier . . . is the standalone third volume in the Russian’s Booker Prize-winning trilogy Tales from the Last Days. Set at the end of the Soviet Empire it’s a slim, dark and poetic volume following Alyosha, a soldier who has finished his service, as he journeys to the kingdom of the dead. It’s both a grotesque portrayal of Soviet reality and an apocalyptic allegory.’ Big Issue in the North
- ‘Pavlov’s reputation and style sets him among the ranks of authors such as Genet and Burroughs with comparison also drawn to Faulkner and Kafka. Lovers of the haunting, poetic, literary grotesque of these authors combined with a healthy level of surrealist humour will find great satisfaction in the pages.’ Booktrust
- Chekhov would approve . . . Pavlov [is] a witness with a flair for spectacular images of surreal beauty – a mouse “quivered like a little heart” – which simply ease into a narrative, blending heightened prose descriptions with political satire and punchy dialogue, often expressing exasperation, which is well rendered into colloquial English by Anna Gunin.’ Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times
- ‘A triumph of Russian farce . . . At a time when the bodies of soldiers are being returned to their families from a war that the authorities assure us . . . the country is not fighting, we can only marvel at the author’s prescience.’ George Walden, Times Literary Supplement
- ‘A meditation on death and the downfall of the Soviet Union suffused with all the bleak absurdity of a Samuel Beckett play . . . The final novel of the Tales From The Last Days trilogy, this is a memorable absurdist satire with great relevance today.’ Thom Cuell, Workshy Fop
- ‘A brutal and thought-provoking book.’ The Lady
- ‘A grotesque caricatural portrait of the last days of the Soviet Empire.’ The Skinny
- ‘Pavlov describes the madness of an infirmary and firing ground somewhere near Karaganda in a manner that would make Faulkner envious.’ Aleksei Mokrousov
- ‘Certain philological jesters try to present the talented Russian author Oleg Pavlov as the most gloomy and hopeless of writers. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s not true! First prize goes to our everyday life itself – that is what’s truly monstrous and absurd. The author of [Requiem for a Soldier] loves his characters and feels their pain . . . Intent observation of all living beings forms the basis of Pavlov’s perception.’ Natalya Dardykina, Moskovsky komsomolets
- ‘Pavlov is patently charismatic. His language is dense and viscous, and the terrible world of his prose is almost fairytale-like.’ Vladimir Berezin, Exlibris
- ‘Novels like this seldom appear in our literature. Something similar might have emerged from Franz Kafka’s pen, had he served in the army and written a military-themed novel.’ Viktor Kanavin, Itogi
- Read more about Oleg Pavlov in our authors’ section.
- Requiem for a Soldier is translated by Anna Gunin. Anna has translated I am a Chechen! by German Sadulaev and The Sky Wept Fire by Mikail Eldin. Her translations of Pavel Bazhov’s folk tales appear in Russian Magic Tales from Pushkin to Platonov (Penguin Classics), shortlisted for the 2014 Rossica Prize. She has also translated poetry, plays and film scripts by Denis Osokin and Yuri Arabov.
- Requiem for a Soldier is the third volume in the Russian Booker winning trilogy, Tales from the Last Days. Volume One, Captain of the Steppe, a ‘brilliant and lasting expression of a bitter, righteous rage’ and Volume Two, the ‘small stunner‘ The Matiushin Case, are also published by And Other Stories.