A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia
Fiction by Victor Pelevin
Translated from the Russian by Andrew Bromfield
Victor Pelevin is “the only young Russian novelist to have made an impression in the West” (Village Voice). With A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia, the second of Pelevin’s Russian Booker Prize-winning short story collections, he continues his Sputnik-like rise. Like the writers to whom he is frequently compared––Kafka, Bulgakov, Philip K. Dick, and Joseph Heller––he is a deft fabulist, who finds fuel for his fire in society’s deadening protocol. In “The Tarzan Swing,” a street wanderer converses with a stranger who could be his own reflection; in the title story, a young Muscovite, Sasha, stumbles upon a group of people in the forest who can transform themselves into wolves; in “Vera Pavlova’s Ninth Dream,” the attendant in a public toilet finds her researches into solipsism have dire and diabolical consequences. As Publishers Weekly noted about this collection, “Pelevin’s allegories are reminiscent of children’s fairy tales in their fantastic depictions of worlds within worlds, solitary souls tossed helplessly among them.” Pelevin––whom Spin called “a master absurdist, a brilliant satirist of things Soviet, but also of things human”––carries us in A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia to a sublime land of black comic brilliance.