Russian Gothic in Big Issue Spring reads: Best of this season’s book releases

Spring reads: Best of this season’s book releases

Russian Gothic by Aleksandr Skorobogatov, translated by Ilona Chavasse

Out on May 9, Old Street Publishing, £8.99

JANE GRAHAM 25 Feb 2023

This 1991 short novel by Belorussian Skorobogatov finally arrives in the UK with impressive fanfare. English language publishers have been dragging their feet regarding what publishers around the globe have hailed a modern masterpiece in the tradition of Gogol’s seminal Diary of a Madman. That comparison is big talk, not entirely warranted, but there are many things to mark Russian Gothic — the tale of an intense, grief-stricken violent marriage blown apart by jealousy and paranoia — as an exciting prospect. Especially for readers with a penchant for the peculiarities of the late-19th century surreal-leaning Russian masters.

Russian Gothic will be Prokofiev to your ears

The black, droll humour; the hyperbolic expression, both in dialogue and the author’s prose; the bold assumption that is the Russian writer’s job to take on profound truths about humanity’s successes and failures; the seamless switches from short no-nonsense exposition to grand sighs and world-weary cries. The proliferation of melodramatic exclamation marks! If this is the territory in which your own dark soul thrives (mine certainly does), Russian Gothic will be Prokofiev to your ears.