Just read A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia by Victor Pelevin. Published in 1998, this is a collection of short stories by an author of whom I was completely ignorant – but whom I think I shall read again if opportunity offers.
Initial impressions are – in the title story – of a dark and brooding Russianness, based in a forbidding landscape and a sense of alienation, but this rapidly gives way to a quite different mood. To say that a group of werewolves create a lighthearted or joyful atmosphere would be to exaggerate, but there is a certain moody levity which I found appealing. And the second story, Vera Pavlovna’s Ninth Dream has an opening line to die for: “Perestroika erupted into the public lavatory on
Or, another wonderful opening line, this time from the story Tai Shou Chuan USSSR: “As everyone knows, our universe is located in the teapot of a certain Lui Dunbin, who sells trinkets at the bazaar in Chanyan.” As you can imagine, these are whimsical, philosophical tales, making mock of the Soviet tyranny and bureaucracy (and all others), and gently – and sometimes not so gently – affirming the strength and humour of the individual survivor.