The latest addition to my website is Lyudmila Petrushevskaya‘s Нас украли. История преступлений (Kidnapped). Petrushevskaya is best-known for her weird/dark tales and though this is a novel it takes the form of several tales within tales within tales… We start with a man, Sergei Sertsov, who made his fortune (illegally) after the fall of his Soviet Union and now lives in the fictitious country of Montegasco where he is expecting the arrival of his teenage son from Russia whom he had not seen since he was a baby. He is going to get two – two teenage boys with exactly the same name and born on the same date in the same place though they are not twins.
We then backtrack through a series of stories – the chauffeur, Sergei, his wife, his parents-in-law and several others – that both show how this situation and came about but also showing up the horrors of the latter part of the Soviet Union and the early years of post-Soviet Russia , with corruption, the failure of public services, brutality and cruelty, particularly towards women and extensive poverty and inadequate infrastructure. Petrushevskaya does not hold back in her criticism of the two eras with even the victims often behaving badly.