The two novels included in this book are works of Russian magic realism. In the first novel, Shadowplay on a Sunless Day, Anatoly Kudryavitsky writes about life in modern-day Moscow and about an emigrant’s life in Germany. The chapters of this multi-layered novel form a narrative mosaic of episodes set in both real and surreal worlds. The writer confronts real life with the phantasmagoria of a shadow world, drawing a parallel with Tuatha Dé Danann, the underworld of Celtic mythology. Spending time there gives the heroes a chance to consider their existence from perspective of eternal life, which seems both attractive and terrifying. The novel deals with problems of self-identification, national identity and the crises of the generation of “new Europeans”.
In the second novel, A Parade of Mirrors and Reflection, the writer turns his attention to human cloning, an issue very much at the centre of current scientific debate. In this novel, he looks at the philosophical aspects of creating artificial personalities who lack emotions and experience of everyday human life through a story about secret cloning experiments being carried out in an underground laboratory on the outskirts of Moscow. Most of the clones find themselves in Grodno, Belarus, a city that, due to its geographical location, has always been an important crossroads in Eastern Europe. Each clone is a featureless person looking for their own identity; however, only one of them has a chance to succeed.