Valery Popov, born in 1939 in Kazan, is a distinguished author and script-writer. He graduated from the Leningrad Institute of Power Engineering in 1963 and worked as an engineer until 1969 while simultaneously studying at the Script-writing Department of the Film-making Institute which he finished in 1970.
He published his first story “The Automaton and I” in the anthology The Trial, and in 1969 he published his first collection of short stories More Southerly than Before. A year later his first book for children came out, entitled None of us is Handsome. In 1970 he joined the Writers Union and then headed its prose section during the perestroika years. Later he was deputy chairman of the Leningrad Writers Union and headed the Petersburg branch of the PEN Center.
Popov is the winner of several literary prizes, including the State Prize for Literature. He was awarded the medal “In Memory of the 300th Anniversary of St Petersburg”, “Order of Friendship”, and “For the Service to St Petersburg”. He is the head of the St Petersburg Writers Union since 2003.
“Valery Popov is sharp-sighted and perspicacious, but he is particularly famous for his irrepressible love of life which colors with good cheer even into his tragic stories based on real-life events and experiences. His style is light and witty, his writing is intelligent, positive and perceptive. He follows in the footsteps of Gogol in describing life as a tangle of fun and horror where fear is overcome with cheer and humor helps to hold on.” – Book Review
You Left behind your Wings or Love in the Time of Troubles
Valery Popov’s new book is a cycle of three short novels which are lyrical-satirical narratives set in our times.
In the novel “You Left behind your Wings” Love keeps losing her wings and recovering them again in the tragicomic whirlpool of the perestroika chaos of the 1990s and 2000s.
In the second piece called “The Tester”, the protagonist, in his search for love, has to undergo all sorts of novel experiences, such as a transgender revolution, ethnical-linguistic confusion, the various stressful influences on his mind, and what not. He manages to save his sanity thanks to his irony and common sense.
In the third novel “Across the Lethe and Back” the protagonist is rescued from the hospital by an anti-heroine who is veritably his opposite in many respects. She looks at the world through her smart-phone and her admiration invariably goes to the strong and mighty, that is, to the military. The protagonist is both fascinated and horrified by her. He had never been in love with anyone like her. But he realizes that it is young people like that who rule today’s world.
Dancing to Death, a novel
This is the story of the author’s relationship with his only beloved daughter, from her birth to her last day on earth. She died early of cirrhosis after many years of alcoholic indulgence. A brilliant story-teller Popov does not attempt to squeeze tears out of readers’ eyes and neither does he analyze the reasons behind her drama because his love for his daughter is unquestionable. He reviews her life by episodes trying to spot the turning point in her life where things went wrong. The fate of this adventurous and bright individual, a striking personality and a talented artist is a lesson to all.
Mosquito Lives while it Sings, a novel
This is a life of Popov’s father, an outstanding agronomist who had selected a number of new brands of wheat and rye. Embracing almost the entire 20th century his life was affected by the revolution, collectivization and purges, by the Second World War and loss of his near ones in the gulags. The story is a tribute to his staunchness and dedication to a goal. The father is 94-years-old at the beginning of the book. He had always been a distinguished man but now has to cope with the indignity of old age: he can’t walk without help, he stumbles and falls frequently, he can’t even use a toilet without someone’s assistance, and even wets his pants. All this is described in detail quite frankly. However, the father is a strong personality and he manages to move his feebleness to the back of his mind and concentrate on his work. The novel is a monument to the tragedy and courage of old age.
The Third Breath, a novel
Popov describes the gradual degradation of his alcoholic wife who takes regular psychiatric treatments but then succumbs to drinking again. She lies and throws tantrums, hides bottles of vodka in secret places, and generally makes her husband’s life miserable, to say nothing of her own. Finally she becomes disabled and the husband, who is the narrator, cannot abandon her. He is the kind of man who voluntarily bears all the crosses life puts on his path, who feels responsible for all the ills of the world, and never gives up. Humor is the only thing that counterbalances the hell of his life.