Sasha “Sankya” Tishin, and his friends are part of a generation stuck between eras. They don’t remember the Soviet Union, but they also don’t believe in the promise of opportunity for all in the corrupt, capitalistic new Russia. They belong to an extremist group that wants to build a better Russia by tearing down the existing one. Sasha, alternately thoughtful and naïve, violent and tender, dispassionate and romantic, hopeful and hopeless, is torn between the dying village of his youth and the soulless capital, where he and his friends stage rowdy protests and do battle with the police. When they go too far, Sasha finds himself testing the elemental force of the protest movement in Russia and in himself.
Originally published in 2006, Sankya is even more relevant today as a prism through which to view the recent large-scale actions against Vladimir Putin. It is Prilepin’s first novel and is widely considered his best.
Endorsements and Review Quotes
“For many, this novel is seen as a mild critique of Russia’s current political situation, particularly with President Putin in mind.” Varia Fedko-Blake, The Culture Trip
“This English translation of Zakhar Prilepin’s Sankya by Mariya Gusev and Jeff Parker has been long overdue; and in recent months disturbingly relevant. The novel gained a cult following on its 2006 release, and Prilepin was hailed as the reincarnation of any number of Russian greats, most famously Gorky.” Maxim Edwards, openDemocracy
“…probably the most important writer in modern Russia, a sensitive and intelligent critic of his country’s condition.” NEWSWEEK
“The novel comes to parody a thriller as the revolutionaries plunge towards a vain uprising. There is a touch of absurdity in their actions (while willing to commit assassinations, their great challenge to the president is to throw food at him).” Robin Davis, The Scotland-Russia Review
“The novel is so vivid that it seems to be almost extremist.” KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA
“At its core, Sankya can be seen as the most vivid explanation of how we went from Pussy Riot and Bolotnaya to Maidan and Donetsk in a span of just a few years. In other words, how post-Soviet society went from the masked girls of Pussy Riot to the masked men of Eastern Ukraine.” RUSSIA DIRECT
“This is a novel of ideas, a novel of action, and a novel of heartbreak and beauty” THREE PERCENT
“Prilepin, who has served in special police forces as well in the Russian military in Chechnya before becoming one of the leaders of the National Bolshevik group and getting arrested more than 150 times, clearly draws from his own experience. But the novel is not a polemic; it is a piece of art. It looks long and hard into the darkest crevasses of the consciousness of the young people stuck between eras, the young people who must be understood rather than dismissed if the country is to move forward.” ZORAN ROSKO blog