Sergei Shargunov’s A Book without Photographs follows the young journalist and activist through selected snapshots from different periods of his remarkable life. Through memories both sharp and vague, we see scenes from Shargunov’s Soviet childhood, his upbringing in the family of a priest; his experience of growing up during the fall of empire and studying journalism at Moscow State University; his trip to war-torn Chechnya and Kyrgyzstan during the revolution; his first steps towards a fledgling political career.
The book reflects the vast social and cultural transformations that colour Russia’s recent history and mirrors the experience of an entire generation of Russians whose lives and feelings are inextricably intertwined with the fate of their homeland.
Shortlisted for the National Bestseller Prize and a contender for The Big Book Award, A Book without Photographs showcases the talents of one of the country’s brightest lights; a key player in a generation at the forefront of change in contemporary Russia.
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A writer, journalist and political activist, Sergei Shargunov was born in 1980 into the family of a Russian Orthodox priest. He studied journalism at Moscow State University, and since then has reported from different locations including Chechnya and South Ossetia, earning a reputation as a writer with a social conscience who has covered some of the most significant events in recent Russian history. He has worked for different periodicals, often heading his own literary projects, and since 2000 has worked for New World magazine as a literary critic and as an author of fiction.
In 2012, Shargunov spearheaded the launch of opposition news website Svobodnaya Pressa (‘Free Press’) together with fellow writer Zakhar Prilepin, and remains its chief editor. He has been a finalist in the National Bestseller Awards and the recipient of a Debut award for literature and a Moscow National Award for Art and Literature.
Russian Bookshelf: A book without photographs by Sergei Shargunov (podcast)
“A collage of images, A Book without Photographs takes the reader on a tour through the writer’s Soviet childhood and early career as a journalist, photographer, and political activist.” World Literature Today
“In my opinion, this is Shargunov’s strongest work. Here he is for the first time absolutely honest and free from his status, and on his own current. This book is written with love and without mercy – to his own country, to his own gift. This is what makes big literature.” Dmitry Bykov
“And that’s how life of clergy during the Soviet era, school, department of journalism at MSU, Chechen war – all of it – is seen through the eyes of a not so grown up adult. And told to the reader of nearly the same age. And in the end it turned out to be the picture of the world as seen by 30 year olds. Though without pictures.” Time Out Moscow
“Shargunov’s prose is priceless for his ability to insensibly derive conclusions without preaching and without judging. His conclusions are always shocking, more so because the author works with contrasts.” Megalit
The novel “tracks the last few decades of Russian history through snapshots of the author’s life.” Phoebe Taplin, Russia Beyond the Headlines
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