“…every one of my sins will torment me…
And the good that I have done is lighter than fluff.
It will be blown away by any draft of wind…”
Sin Z. Prilepin
Sin – a novel-in-stories by Zahar Prilepin – which has become an apogee of the spirit of the 2000s in Russia and is being called the book of the decade by the Super Natsbest Award jury, not only embodies the reality of post-perestroika Russia in its pages, but also shows that even in this reality, just like in any other, it is possible to live happily while remaining human.
In the episodes of Zakharka’s happy life, in non-chronological order, the reader sees him as a little boy, a bitterly drinking grave-digger, a nightclub bouncer or a soldier in Chechnya. He has no money, but has the ability to enjoy every moment of existence. He is contagiously full of passion for living, taking large gulps of it while being uncompromisingly happy, despite the crudeness of his surrounding reality.
Manhood in the flesh, he is overwhelmed by instincts and overcomes them not without pleasure, preserving what is truly important in life. He looks boldly, and even with curiosity, into the face of death - either taking pictures of the deceased at a funeral or staring agitatedly at a just-disembowelled pig - and values the freedom of not fearing for his life, perhaps even more than life itself. And only two young sons make him understand that this freedom is not his anymore.
Like the Russian soul itself, Zakharka is lost in search of his place in this newly-reorganized world. He is a kind of goodness with fists, full of youthful energy and daring, capable yet of truly loving and changing today, even in little things – in order to obtain justice.
Sin offers a fascinating window into the soul of those whom you can see on the streets doing menial jobs, or stone-faced Russian army recruits who will come back from war to find themselves chucking drunken visitors out of a nightclub.
The novel offers a rare and intimate perspective on the reality of the recent Russian past, as well as the present, with its unemployment, poverty, violence and local wars – social problems that are an actuality for most of the countries on the planet.
The book translated by Simon Patterson together with Nina Chordas.