Position:Book review

Olga Slavnikova (author); 2017; The Overlook Press (Fiction: Literary) $26.95 ISBN: 9781590203095

Olga Slavnikovaas novel [title=book]2017[/title], set one hundred years after the 1917 Russian Revolution, is an imagined amalgamation of Russiaas near future and its conflicted past. The fictional Riphean mountain region, where the book takes place, resembles post-revolutionary western Russia, except poets, writers, and artists have lost all cultural relevance and the Red Cavalry and White Guard have resumed fightingasome in the vintage uniforms left over from the original uprising. The regionas natural resources have been depleted and the landscape ravaged. But [title=book]2017[/title] isnat just a dystopian novel. Slavnikova is a cheeky, intelligent, and forceful storyteller, and the bookawhich won the 2006 Russian Booker Prizeais a love story and treasure hunt, with the unlikely, downtrodden hero Krylov at the helm.

Obsessed from an early age with collecting stones native to the region, Krylov becomes a gem-cutter to follow his passion. As the product of an obscured cultural history that is shape-shifting and corrupt, he seeks transparency and authenticity not only from the gems, but also from the increasingly disastrous world that surrounds him. Eventually, he becomes ensconced in the greed, espionage, and even murder that accompany the illegal precious-gem trade. Arguably just as dangerous are the mythical creatures of mountain folklore believed to beget...

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