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Sasha Filipenko

Sasha Filipenko born in 1984, is a Belorussian author currently living in St Petersburg and writing in Russian. Trained as a musician he gave up music and enrolled in St Petersburg University, the department of liberal arts. He works as a TV script writer and made a name with his own show on Rain TV. Author of four novels: Former Son, Conceptions, Harassment, and Red Cross. Winner of the ďRussian PrizeĒ (2014) for non-Russian authors, the Znamya magazine Prize (2014), and the SNOB prize ďMade in RussiaĒ (2016); short-listed for the top literary prizes such as the Big Book and the Booker. His style is laconic, vigorous, and visual. Red Cross was recently published in French.

Red Cross, a novel, 240 pp. (in Russian)
This novel is basically a detective story based on real events and interspersed with excerpts from Red Cross document, some of them published for the first time. The mysteries are investigated and the culprits in the crimes are duly found, but not punished. According to the author, the novel is also about a test of manís endurance, and how much a human will, mind and conscience can stand before a person begins to turn into an animal. Interesting point: the events are seen through the eyes of a modern-day young man fascinated with the distant Soviet history whose echoes he can feel in the present.
The young protagonist Sasha lost his beloved wife after her long struggle with cancer and has to raise their little son on his own. His misery is more than he can bear. But then his new neighbor, the 90-year-old Tatiana Alexeevna, starts compulsively telling him her life story which coincided with the most tragic events in Russiaís history and destroyed those dear to her. At first Sasha is somewhat annoyed to be distracted from his own grief. But as the story unfolds he becomes increasingly involved and ends up helping the old woman to unwind the remaining riddles of her fate and find the missing clues and people.
Tatiana Alexeevna was born in London, but in the 1920s her father brought her, a youngster, to the USSR. With her native English she works as a typist for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs where she meets her future husband. They are madly in love, they have a happy marriage and a lovely daughter. At the outbreak of WWII her husband goes to the frontlines and is taken prisoner. Tatiana Alexeevna happens to type Red Cross lists of POWs where she finds her husbandís name which means he automatically becomes a traitor and an enemy of the people. The family of the traitor will be punished as well. She forges the list to eliminate her husbandís name from it and instead types the previous manís name twice. After the war she canít escape arrest on false suspicion of espionage and spends ten years in the gulag while her daughter grows up in an orphanage.
Having been released she starts looking for her husband and also for the man whose name she put instead of her husbandís in the POWs list because all the years she felt guilty for doing it. She happens to find a one-way correspondence of the Red Cross officials in Geneva suggesting cooperation to the Soviet government regarding Russian POWs. Their letters are ignored and since the Soviet Union had refused to sign the convention on POWs thousands of captives were doomed to an inglorious death of wounds and hunger in the POW camps. Moreover, the survivors were convicted as traitors back home. There were documents instructing Soviet soldiers to dismantle German barracks and transport them to Russia to be put together again and used to house gulag prisoners; instructions on how best to extract gold dental crowns; and all sorts of other curious documents.
In the end the man, whose name Tatiana Alexeevna put in the list instead of her husbandís, turns out to be the very informer who caused her husbandís death.