Olga Grushin’s astonishing literary debut has won her comparisons with everyone from Gogol to Nabokov. A virtuoso study in betrayal and its consequences, it explores—really, colonizes—the consciousness of Anatoly Sukhanov, who many years before abandoned the precarious existence of an underground artist for the perks of a Soviet apparatchik. But, at the age of 56, his perfect life is suddenly disintegrating. Buried dreams return to haunt him. New political alignments threaten to undo him. Vaulting effortlessly from the real to the surreal and from privilege to paranoia, The Dream Life of Sukhanov is a darkly funny, demonically entertaining novel.
Even for a man on "the very best terms with the very best people," the Soviet Union on the eve of glasnost is a precarious place. So it goes for bitterly compelling antihero Anatoly Pavlovich Sukhanov, richly crafted in this debut novel by Russian migr Grushin. After starting out as an avant-garde artist, Sukhanov marries the daughter of an iconic Soviet painter, becomes a critic and quickly rises to editor-in-chief of Art of the World, an influential journal devoted to disparaging the Western art that once inspired him. An enviable Moscow apartment, a dacha and a personal driver follow, but 12 years later, Sukhanov can no longer write, his wife and son know him for the sellout he is, and Gorbachev's ascension may mean the end of his sinecure. When a man claiming to be his long-lost cousin comes to visit, Sukhanov finds himself sleeping on his couch, where, as dreams of his former life haunt him, his past may catch up with him for real. Grushin, who has served as former President Carter's personal interpreter and as an editor at Harvard's Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, offers a powerful and richly detailed examination of late Soviet society's harsh confinements even for those who have all the right connections.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Dream Life of Sukhanov
You are drawn into a "dream life" that feels all too real and familiar. Grushin compels us to examine the core value decisions we make through even our most mundane daily choices. Well written; great read.