The novel Good Stalin is inspired by Erofeev’s experience growing up amidst the Soviet political hierarchy. His father, a staunch Stalinist who has dedicated his life and soul to the party, begins as Stalin’s personal interpreter, and rises rapidly to the top of the political ladder and into the leader’s inner circle. The book reflects the family’s prestigious – and yet precarious – position as members of the nomenklatura. In one memorable scene, the main character Victor recalls how he would walk past the Kremlin as a child and comment to friends, “that’s where my father works – he and Comrade Stalin”.
However, unquestioning devotion to the Communist Party does not come to young Viktor so easily as it had for his father: growing up, he begins to write stories classified as ‘obscene literature’ by the party. Like Erofeev himself, Victor gets involved in the world of dissident literature, violating Soviet censorship laws and being expelled from the Writers’ Union. His actions result in the end of his father’s career, just at the point when he hoped to be appointed Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Erofeev’s autobiographical novel provides both a child’s and an adult’s perspective on several decades of Soviet history. The book documents not only the emergence of a prominent writer, but also looks at the evolution of the Soviet dissident movement amongst the nomenklatura.