What Are We Reading?: Day of the Oprichnik, Vladimir Sorokin
Rating: 5/5 Cultural Parodies
Give me the short version: Ritual, torture, lust. Politics of deadly bent. Starting hungover, alternate future oprichnik Danilovich jams more into his day than most could take in a week.
There’s a lot going on in this novel, for its relatively modest length. Lovers of history, sociology and politics will all find fascinations to plunge into, but don’t balk if none of that fires your blood. I just picked it up ‘cause I like Russia. Day of the Oprichnik is wide open and enjoyable to anyone curious, from any background … although possibly not for faint hearts, unbending sensibilities or queasy stomachs. More suited to adventurous minds, keen to wander off the beaten track and question everything they know, let alone read. If you like doubling-up it’d make a great companion piece to Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange. Invariably this is a world you’re left wanting to know more about, but Day of the Oprichnik is a perfectly balanced piece and really didn’t need to be a sentence longer. If like me you cracked the pages unfamiliar with the ins and outs of Russian history, do take the time to read up on the brutal real-life historical oprichnina
My favourite bit:
"His Majesty’s father, the late Nikolai Platonovich, had a good idea: liquidate all the foreign supermarkets and replace them with Russian kiosks. And put two types of each thing in every kiosk, so the people have a choice. A wise decision, profound. Because our God-bearing people should choose from two things, not from three or thirty-nine. Choosing one of two creates spiritual calm, people are imbued with certainty in the future, superfluous fuss and bother is avoided, and consequently – everyone is satisfied."