Zakhar Prilepin: Санькя (Sankya)


The latest addition to my website is Zakhar Prilepin‘s Санькя (Sankya). Sankya, invariably called Sasha in this book, is a young Russian, a former military man who belongs to a group called the Founding Fathers, which is opposed to the ruling authorities in Russia, i.e. to Putin, though he is not mentioned by name. Sasha and many of his friends are essentially, nihilists, a philosophy that is found in Russian literature as far back as Turgenev. Much of the book revolves around their activities, starting with a demonstration in Moscow that, inevitably and deliberately, turns violent (though not too violent) and ends up in Sasha and his friends getting beaten up (but not too badly). However, when the Founding Fathers’ leader is arrested, Matyev, the new leader, and Sasha decide to change the tempo and become more violent. What else is there to do? Sasha asks rhetorically. We do see other viewpoints. The generation immediately before them, while opposed very much to Putin, do not see nihilistic violence as a solution (though they do not seem to have a real solution, except for a vague hope that things will get better), while the generation of Sasha’s mother and grandparents seem merely worn down by the struggle of living. It is a very interesting portrait of contemporary disaffected Russia and, no doubt, Sasha’s views are shared by many other Russians.

Leave a Reply