RUSSIAN BEAUTY by Victor Erofeyev


Email this review


 This supernova monologue is the story of Irina (Ira) Tarakanova--Moscow muse, lover of countless men and also a few women, singer of a long song of despair and humor and satire and Russianness. As the story commences, she is both pregnant and newly baptized, the mixture of which leads her away from her normal penchant for abortion. Who the father is, or might claim to be, is awfully hard to know. Ira sleeps with an Armenian concert pianist, a Latin American ambassador, any number of short-term lovers, and, most prominent of all, Vladimir Sergeyevich, a famous Socialist-Realist writer, a state icon, an artist who's never done the brave or right thing, a very old man--who dies in Ira's arms during sex. To fornicate with cowardice seems Ira's destiny--and as you ride the swells of this Rabelaisian novel (terrifically translated by Reynolds), you are laughing one minute and horrified the next (Ira's work collective holds a tribunal about her--during which a whole spectrum of Soviet-relativity-style betrayal is exhibited; her accusers fall over themselves afterward to assure her of their bravery in not saying worse about her!). Meanwhile, the story accommodates reportage (wonderful pictures of the time-lag found in the Russian countryside, the boys all wearing Beatle haircuts), philosophy, pornography (Ira models for a magazine wearing widow's weeds), and spiritual exorcism. It is a dynamo--and Erofeyev (who, together with Aksyonov, edited a dissident-writings collection, Metropol, in 1983) puts himself directly into the rank of Aksyonov, Bitov, Tolstaya--the best of the Russian writers working now.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-670-83606-0
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1993