Sorokin, Vladimir 1955- (Vladimir Georgievich Sorokin)
Sorokin, Vladimir 1955- (Vladimir Georgievich Sorokin)
Born August 7, 1955, in Bykovo, Russia; married; children: twin daughters. Education: Moscow Institute of Oil and Gas, graduated, 1977.
Writer, playwright, illustrator, and artist.
Russian PEN club.
National Booker Award, 2001; Award of Andrey Beliy, 2001, for outstanding contributions to Russian literature.
Ochered (novel), Sintaksis (Parizh, Russia), 1985, translated, and with an introduction, by Sally Laird as The Queue, Readers International (New York, NY), 1988.
Roman, Tri Kita (Moscow, Russia), 1994.
Norma (title means "The Norm"), Tri Kita (Moscow, Russia), 1994.
Tridtsataialiubov' Mariny (title means "Marina's Thirtieth Love"), Izd. R. Eálinina (Moscow, Russia), 1995.
Sobranie Sochinenii v Dvukh Tomakh, Ad Marginem (Moscow, Russia), 1998.
Goluboe Salo (novel; title means "Blue Fat" or "Blue Lard"), Ad Marginem (Moscow, Russia), 1999.
Serdtsa chetyrekh (title means "Four Stout Hearts"), Ad Marginem (Moscow, Russia), 2001.
Pir (title means "The Feast"), Ad Marginem (Moscow, Russia), 2001.
Pervyi Subbotnik: Rasskazy (short stories; title means "The First Saturday Workday"), Ad Marginem (Moscow, Russia), 2001.
Lëd (novel), Ad Marginem (Moscow, Russia), 2002.
ËPS, ZebraE (Moscow, Russia), 2002.
Utro Snaipera, Ad Marginem (Moscow, Russia), 2002.
Put' Bro (novel; title means "Bros Way"), Zakharov (Moscow, Russia), 2004.
Russkii Rasskaz XX Veka, Zakharov (Moscow, Russia), 2005.
Den' Oprichnika, Zakharov (Moscow, Russia), 2006.
Ice, translated by Jamey Gambrell, New York Review Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Pelmeni, first produced 1984.
Zemlyanka (title means "The Hut," or "Earth-House"), 1985.
Russkaya Babushka (title means "Russian Grandmother"),1988.
Doverie (title means "Confidence"), 1989.
Yubiley (title means "Anniversary"), 1993.
Hochzeitreise (title means "The Post-Nuptual Journey"), c. 1994.
Shchi (title means "Cabbage Soup"), c. 1995.
S Novym Godom (title means "Happy New Year"), 1998.
Bezumny Fritz (title means "Mad Fritz"), 1994.
Moskva (title means "Moscow"), Ad Marginem (Moscow, Russia), 2001.
Kopeyka (title means "Kopeck"), 2002.
4, Zakharov (Moscow, Russia), 2005.
Also author of scripts Veshch ("Thing") and Cashfire.
Also author of V Glub' Rossii (photograph album; title means "In the Depths of Russia"), with Oleg Kulik; and Deti Rozentalya (opera libretto; title means "Rosenthal's Children"). Contributor to periodicals, including A-Ya, Tretya Modernizatsiya, Mitin, Konets Veka, Vestnik Novoy Literatury, and Rodnik. Books have been translated into English, French, German, Dutch, Finnish, Swedish, Italian, Polish, Japanese, and Korean.
Although he went to college to become an engineer, Vladimir Sorokin instead turned his talents to illustrating books and then to writing them. Since that time, he has become a prolific author of novels, short stories, plays, and screenplays. Sorokin often writes in the fantasy-science fiction genre, but with an ulterior motive. Writing in World Literature Today, Tatiana Nazarenko commented that Sorokin has a "well-established practice of deconstructing ideological, mythological, and discursive clichés of totalitarian power." For example, in his satirical and allegorical novel Norma, the author tells the story of a prestigious food, "Norm," wanted by all Soviet citizens despite the fact that it is disgusting in odor and taste. "‘Norm’ becomes a grotesque embodiment of the uniformity of Soviet life, devoid of any individuality that could escape ‘norm,’" explained Juri Talvet in World Literature Today. "It is not tasty or attractive, but everybody is made to believe that accepting it is the only way to exist." Talvet went on to call the novel "a skillfully constructed and bitingly witty narrative."
Pervyi Subbotnik: Rasskazy is a collection of twenty-nine of the author's short stories that parody Russian culture, society, and politics. For example, in "Sergei Andreevich" the author tells a story of a Russian field trip led by a beloved teacher who inspires one of his students to perform a grotesque act. Writing in WorldLiterature Today, Joseph P. Mozur, Jr., referred to the short story as a "devastating parody of the mentor-protege relationship so prominent in the didactic world of socialist realism." Mozur went on to write that the short-story collection is "strong medicine for readers in a country reared on socialist realism."
In his first novel translated into English, Ice, Sorokin tells the strange story of young Muscovites with blonde hair and blue eyes who are being kidnapped and having their chests cracked open with hammers made of ice from outer space. If their hearts are silent, they are left to die; but if the hearts utter some words from a mysterious "heart language" the young men and women are trained to become "heart speakers." The novel revolves around three such survivors and their mentor, who trains them to work towards the apocalyptic destruction of humans. Referring to Ice as "a truly thrilling postmodern thriller" in Library Journal, Jim Dwyer went on to call the novel "a cautionary tale about totalitarianism, bigotry, elitism, and fundamentalism." Commenting that the novel "provides a head-scratching pleasure and deceptive quickness," Jon Fasman claimed in a Los Angeles Times review that "Sorokin is that most dreaded of creatures—an experimental author—but he wears this mantle lightly."
In 2002, Sorokin faced criminal charges for distributing pornography in the form of his novel Goluboe Salo. The book contains a homosexual sex scene between the former Soviet Leaders Joseph Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev. Though the charges were eventually dropped, Sorokin's work remains highly controversial in Russia.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Vladimir Sorokin, Russlit (Moscow, Russia), 1992.
Booklist, December 1, 2006, Micahel Gannon, review of Ice, p. 23.
Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press, August 14, 2002, "Pornography Case Opens against Novelist Sorokin," p. 1.
Economist, August 17, 2002, "Hardly Worth the Trouble; Destroying Books in Russia."
Entertainment Weekly, January 26, 2007, "Robots, Reboots, and Superhero Shrinks," includes review of Ice, p. 75.
IPR Strategic Business Information Database, August 5, 2002, "Russia: Walking Together Leader Justifies Accusations"; August 5, 2002, "Russia: Public Rushes to Read Beleaguered Author"; August 5, 2002, "Russia: Prosecutor Files Charges"; August 5, 2002, "Russia: Culture Ministry Speaks Out against Sorokin Investigation"; September 9, 2002, Russia Court Denies Avant-Garde Writer's Suit"; September 17, 2002, "Russia: Bomb Rocks Walking Together Headqurters"; October 7, 2002, "Russia: Embattled Writer Shortlisted for Presitigous Prize"; October 10, 2002, "Russia: Bookstore Owner Complains of Persecution"; May 4, 2003, "Russia: Pornography Charges Droopped against Avant-Garde Writer"; March 13, 2005, "Russia: Avant Garde Writer at Center of another Controversy."
Index on Censorship, April 1, 2003, "Trick Lard," p. 202.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2006, review of Ice, p. 1043.
Library Journal, June 15, 1988, review of The Queue, p. 69; November 15, 2006, Jim Dwyer, review of Ice, p. 60.
Los Angeles Times, July 12, 2002, "The World: Russia Targets Writer in Porn Investigation," p. A3; January 7, 2007, Jon Fasman, review of Ice.
M2 Best Books, August 6, 2002, "Russian Author Refuses to Give Evidence"; July 23, 2002, "Russian Author Charged with Distributing Pornography"; September 2, 2002, "Controversial Writer Loses Copyright Battle"; October 9, 2002, "Anti-Pornography Campaign in Russia Targets another Author."
Moscow News, October 18, 1992, "Playing with Cultural Space," p. 15; April 22, 1994, "They Did Not Write Like This Before," p. 12; December 30, 1994, "At Last, Vladimir Sorokin Receives His Due," p. 10; September 6, 2000, "Literature Is a Battle of the Writer's Psychic States …," p. 11; December 8, 2006, "The Big Three?," p. 13.
New York Review of Books, December 16, 2004, "Subversive Activities," p. 65.
New York Times, July 12, 2002, "Russia: Novelist Faces Pornography Charge," pp. A6, A8; July 19, 2002, "What They're Reading about in Moscow," p. A21.
New York Times Book Review, October 2, 1988, review of The Queue, p. 26.
Publishers Weekly, May 13, 1988, review of The Queue, p. 269; October 2, 2006, review of Ice, p. 38.
Russian Life, November 1, 2002, "Sound Familiar?," p. 7.
Times Literary Supplement, June 24, 1988, review of The Queue, p. 698; December 4, 1992, "A Month in Dachau," p. 10.
Wall Street Journal, March 17, 1987, "Spy Story: How the FBI, Tipped by a Russian, Tracked an Intelligence Leak; Agency Found an Old Tape of Ron Pelton's First Call to Soviets 7 Years Ago; A Missed Summons to Vienna," p. 1; July 12, 2002, "Russian Police Probe Novelist's Work," p. A6; July 12, 2002, "A Literary Spring in Russia: After Decade of Uncertainty, Writers Are Again Popular—and Controversial," p. A14.
Washington Post, July 12, 2002, review of Ice, p. A14.
World Literature Today, March 22, 1989, review of The Queue, p. 329; spring, 2002, Joseph P. Mozur, Jr., review of Pervyi subbotnik: Rasskazy, p. 225; October 1, 2002, "Books: Russian Literary Salons," p. 42; October-December, 2003, Tatiana Nazarenko, review of Led, p. 133; October-December 1, 2003, Juri Talvet, review of Norma, p. 134.
Spiegel Online,http://www.spiegel.de/ (February 2, 2007), Martin Doerry and Matthias Schepp, "Spiegel Interview with Author Vladimir Sorokin."
Vladimir Sorokin's Home Page,http://www.srkn.ru/english (April 25, 2007).
Waggish Blog,http://www.waggish.org/ (February 17, 2007), review of Ice.