Rights sold: France - Solin-Actes Sud, World English - DEDALUS, Russia - ARSIS BOOKS, AST, Serbia - UTOPIA
In this novel, Sharov’s main character is an up-and-coming medieval historian, who is given old manuscripts by a mysterious figure. In these manuscripts, he uncovers the diaries of a seventeenth century Frenchman, Jacques de Sertan, who is writing a play about the life of Christ. The novel then follows a small Russian community that acts out Sertan’s work. The community is followed from the Old Believer schism of 1666 to the beginning of the Soviet period and the horrors of the Gulag, where the small community, once blooming with life, turns into a labor camp. In Russia the novel was praised for its in-depth look at the repercussions of communism on a rural community.
The novel was also well received by readers and has sold over 30,000 copies in Russia alone.
Makanin’s view of man’s nature is a pessimistic one, and his depictions of love and harmonious interrelationships lack the power of his descriptions of man’s inhumanity to man (or to beast). He is most at ease describing love linked to violence, as in Blue and Red (Goluhoe i krasnoe) (1983), which describes how two grandmothers battle for the love of their young grandson Kliucharev, who is ‘unused to love’ — a phrase which perhaps could be used to describe many of Makanin’s heroes.The love which Makanin’s heroes advocate is a tough, universal and unselfish love, as typified by the healer Yakushkin with his philosophy of brotherly love in Makanin's previous novel Predlecha (1982). It is love for one’s family and kin, love for one’s people, birthplace, for Russia, love which has a basis in conscience, which interests Makanin, which means that his characters, are seekers...