Oleg Pavlov

Captain of the Steppe

Deep in the desolate steppe, Captain Khabarov waits out his service at a camp where the news arrives in bundles of last year’s papers and rations turn up rotting in their trucks. The captain hopes for nothing more from life than a meagre pension and a state-owned flat. Until, one Spring, he decides to plant a field of potatoes to feed his half-starved men . . .

This blackly comic novel shows the unsettling consequences of thinking for yourself under the Soviet system. Oleg Pavlov’s first novel, published when he was only 24, Captain of the Steppe was immediately praised for its chilling but humane and hilarious depiction of the Soviet Empire’s last years. The first in a trilogy, this novel already confirms Pavlov as a worthy successor to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

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  • An introduction by Marcel Theroux.
  • Shortlisted for the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger 2012.
  • Pavlov’s writing is firmly in the tradition of great Russian novelists such as Dostoyevsky and Solzhenitsyn.
  • If you had subscribed to And Other Stories before this book went to the printers, you would have received one of the first copies of it, in which all subscribers are thanked by name. Find out about subscribing to upcoming titles here.
  • Read an interview with Oleg Pavlov in Calvert Journal: ‘Man of letters: Oleg Pavlov is leading a literary renaissance. Don’t ask him to be happy about it’.
Print status: Available
Author: Oleg Pavlov
Translator: Ian Appleby
Original language: Russian
Format: Trade paperback with flaps
Publication date: 11 April 2013
ISBN: 9781908276186
Ebook ISBN: 9781908276193
Availability: World
Number of pages: 256


Marcel Theroux

‘Pavlov imbues his world with a very particular flavour: the mixture of tragedy, absurdity and black comedy that runs in the veins of Russian literature as far back as the work of Nikolai Gogol … Pavlov fashions a disquieting and comic elegy.’

Michael Nicholson
Times Literary Supplement

Captain of the Steppe combines a traditional Russian faith in the humanising power of literature with a boisterous energy and imagination. Pavlov wrote two further army novels which, along with Captain of the Steppe, have become known as the Tales of the Last Days trilogy, and we can be grateful that both are due for publication by And Other Stories.’

The Daily Mail

‘A comedy as dark and bitter as ersatz coffee.’

Words without Borders

‘Pavlov skillfully navigates the razor-thin gap between dark comedy and tragedy’