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Lizka & Her Men [Paperback]

Alexander Ikonnikov , Andrew Bromfield
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

3 May 2007
Lizka is a young Russian living an unexciting life in a backward rural town. After her first fleeting and unsatisfactory sexual experience sets the locals? tongues wagging, she moves to a larger town ? G ? in search of a new life ? and love. As she moves from one relationship to another, her ?men? include a local con-man, a powerful Party official (later the local governor), a trolleybus driver, a belligerent young army veteran and, ultimately, a poet, the narrator of the story, who finally takes her away from G. In keeping with our heroine?s own character, and in the tradition of the great Russian writers, Ikonnikov draws out the tragic-comic nature of his characters and their obsessions, and presents the reader with a wonderfully detailed picture of provincial Russian characters, habits, opinions and desires.

Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (3 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852428813
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852428815
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,764,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

Review

?With his first full length novel, this talented young writer has succeeded in producing both a detailed psychological study of a young na?ve girl?s transition into a fully fledged confident woman and a true reflection of Russian character and behaviour of the last 35 years? Kulturnews

About the Author

Alexander Ikonnikov was born in 1974 in Urshum near Kirov on Lake Viatka. Having finished his German studies, Ikonnikow was due to do military service. Military service had little appeal for him - this was during the war in Afghanistan - so he opted for the civilian option. In his job interview, the officer said to him 'well you have chosen your moment well, they are looking for a teacher of English in Bystritza'. Ikonnikov made the point that he was a German scholar and knew not a word of English. The military man answered 'So what? What difference does it make?' Thus, he spent two years teaching English in Bystritza, watching the snow fall in a despairing landscape where nothing moves and where the only goal of the locals is to find how to pay for the next bottle of vodka. After this 'edifying' episode in his life which could come straight from his fiction, Ikonnikov moves to Kirov. There he worked as a journalist, a job he gave up to devote himself to writing full time. Lizka and Her Men is the first of Ikonnikov's works to be translated into English.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
THE SMALL TOWN of Lopukhov, located amid the picturesque landscapes of the central region of Russia, was little different from thousands of other such provincial towns in the pre-war period. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back in the USSR 3 April 2008
By A. Ross TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This slender Russian novel about life during and after perestroika revolves around the titular Lizka, as she makes her way in the world. A typical small town girl, she moves to an unnamed big city as a teenager to attend nursing school. There, her story unfolds in a series of episodes or vignettes, as her encounters with various men prove to be catalysts for change in her life. (Her absent father sets the tone for this theme in the opening chapter, as his abandonment dooms Lizka and her mother to a disreputable future in the small town.)

While the women she befriends generally offer her comfort, solace, helpful hints, practical advise, and shoulders to cry on, the men are a mixed bag. There's a con artist who scams money from her, a cynical party hack who transforms into a free-marketeer, a disturbed veteran of the Chechen occupation, and a "man's man" of a trolley driver whom she marries and then divorces. Finally, in a slightly confusing transition, the book's narrator shows up as a poet, whom she falls in with.

Throughout the book, one gets the sense that Lizka and her men are supposed to symbolize elements of recent Russian history -- however the exact mapping of this is somewhat elusive to someone (like me) not well-versed in Russian social history. Is the portrait of Lizka merely meant to depict her transition into a confident woman, or is she meant to stand in for the Russian people? Taken in by con-men, complicit in the rise of corrupt oligarchs, vaguely threatened by wars of choice, unsatisfied with traditional roles, in search of basic human happiness and purpose? It's unclear (and perhaps that's the point), and the brevity of the book doesn't leave much room to explore anything in detail, however those with an interest in Soviet and post-Soviet history may find it worth the quick read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
4.0 out of 5 stars Back in the USSR 3 April 2008
By A. Ross - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This slender Russian novel about life during and after perestroika revolves around the titular Lizka, as she makes her way in the world. A typical small town girl, she moves to an unnamed big city as a teenager to attend nursing school. There, her story unfolds in a series of episodes or vignettes, as her encounters with various men prove to be catalysts for change in her life. (Her absent father sets the tone for this theme in the opening chapter, as his abandonment dooms Lizka and her mother to a disreputable future in the small town.)

While the women she befriends generally offer her comfort, solace, helpful hints, practical advise, and shoulders to cry on, the men are a mixed bag. There's a con artist who scams money from her, a cynical party hack who transforms into a free-marketeer, a disturbed veteran of the Chechen occupation, and a "man's man" of a trolley driver whom she marries and then divorces. Finally, in a slightly confusing transition, the book's narrator shows up as a poet, whom she falls in with.

Throughout the book, one gets the sense that Lizka and her men are supposed to symbolize elements of recent Russian history -- however the exact mapping of this is somewhat elusive to someone (like me) not well-versed in Russian social history. Is the portrait of Lizka merely meant to depict her transition into a confident woman, or is she meant to stand in for the Russian people? Taken in by con-men, complicit in the rise of corrupt oligarchs, vaguely threatened by wars of choice, unsatisfied with traditional roles, in search of basic human happiness and purpose? It's unclear (and perhaps that's the point), and the brevity of the book doesn't leave much room to explore anything in detail, however those with an interest in Soviet and post-Soviet history may find it worth the quick read.
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