Vassily Aksyonov: Апельсины из Марокко [Oranges from Morocco]

The latest addition to my website is Vassily Aksyonov‘s Апельсины из Марокко [Oranges from Morocco]. This book, Aksyonov’s second novel ,was something of a cult book in the Soviet Union, not least because it mildly (but only mildly) criticised the Soviet Union. It is interesting as it is set in Kamchatka. Not many Russian novels are set in Kamchatka. Most of the characters, however, are from elsewhere in the Soviet Union. We follow the stories of five individuals over the course of a day. They have their issues, including love life and job but only one of them has any issue with the Soviet system, as he is told to shave his beard, as Communists are always clean and tidy. The key issue, as the title tells us, is that a shipment of oranges has arrived from Morocco and everyone for miles around rushes to Taly, where the ship has docked, to get some. Oranges and other food are not normally available in the Soviet Union, though some of the characters are more interested in pursuing their love life than the oranges when they get to Taly. Not a great book but an enjoyable read, though not available in English.

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