ELKOST International Literary Agency

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World Creation Recipes, a novel

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Rights sold to: Russia - AST

Finalist of the 2018 Big Book Literary Award

Andrei Filimonov's novel World Creation Recipes is a literary quest in the labyrinth of family history, winding from Paris to Siberia through the entire twentieth century, based on author's personal archives.

Members of the family are most common people; among them are traitors and heroes, emigrants and communists, victims of Stalin's purges and informers of Soviet secret police. Uncle Vasya died on stage of the Bolshoi Theater; young White Army officer Volodya lost  the battle for Crimea to Bolshevik troops. None of them talked about their lives. At best, all they left behind is several bunch of letters preserved in family archive. Therefore, the main hero of the novel is a nameless narrator, supposedly the author's alter-ego, who crossed the river Styx to personally communicate with shadows of his forgotten ancestors, and retell their stories.The author himself defines the genre of the novel as "a documentary tale based on real psychedelic experience."

Praise for Andrey Filimonov's World Creation Recipes

The young, romantic Galya Orlova, a literarily minded young lady from Ivanov, gets involved with both a budding poet (a lightly disguised version of the Soviet writer Konstantin Simonov) and a strapping French pilot from the Normandy-Neman squadron. Ultimately, she marries a pilot from Russia named Dima Filimonov. Galya and Dima move to Siberia, to Tomsk, where Dima finds a new job. The couple collects a private library and builds a fragile, Soviet sort of stability. The KGB tries to recruit them not so much unsuccessfully as senselessly. They raise a son and a grandson, Andryusha, and at the novel’s end, Galya even manages to see Paris with her own eyes and buy a dirt-cheap novel by the Marquise de Sade that was banned in the USSR.

Filimonov lightens this simple and presumably authentic family history with various embellishments, like stories within stories. In one, Galya accidentally ingests a hallucinogenic fly agaric mushroom and strolls around Moscow’s Neskuchny Garden with the ghost of the brutal secret police chief Lavrentiy Beria; another is the tragicomedy of Galya’s stubborn uncle, who was executed inside the famous Bolshoi Theater. These lyrical diversions, however, do not alter the essence of the book: Recipes for the Creation of the World offers just the latest (and far from the last) personal journey through Russia’s twentieth-century history. Just when the narrative reaches the present day — when the grown-up version of the boy Andryusha emerges in the foreground, and the reader takes heart and waits for the plot to develop — the novel sharply and unexpectedly folds into itself, slipping frustratingly into ghostly psychedelic depths.

Like The Tadpole and the Saints (Andrey Filimonov’s previous book), Recipes for the Creation of the World is written so bewitchingly, in such lively, fresh, and energetic language, that to wave it aside so simply would not be entirely fair. As you read it, you will doubtless find a smile on your face on more than one occasion and discover an urge to read certain passages aloud to your friends and loved ones.  -- Galina Yuzefovich, a literary critic