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Valery Ronshin

LIVING A LIFE

Totally Absurd Tales

paper ISBN 9785717200608
ebook ISBN 9785717201315
208 pages

Translated by Jose Alaniz, Joanne Turnbull, Kathleen Cook, Edmund Glentworth, Sofi Cook, John Dewey

Sample writing Zaborov the Dreamer

"Ronshin's stories are reminiscent of early Pelevin's... They contain much humor and much food for thought. He has not yet reached the summit of his success but we have no doubts that one day he will win international fame." — Literaturnaya Gazeta

"Hilariously funny black humor...A brilliant writer of absurd tales..." — Sobesednik

"Death is a frequent presence in Ronshin's brilliantly crafted stories but it invariably appears in some funny guise, almost a lampoon, a toy character in a toy world of innocent violence. Ronshin's characters often feel as if they were living among stage sets and as if they themselves were not really real. In Ronshin's world the dead live side by side with the living without suspecting that they are dead." — Ex Libris

"Real humor is always black," says Valery Ronshin, a highly imaginative and prolific writer whose work includes a strong element of mysticism. His fresh and distinctive literary style recalls that of the 20th century Russian writers of the absurd such as Daniil Kharms. Ronshin's reality is necessarily absurd, sometimes silly. And always haunted by the grotesque, which may intrude at any moment. In the title story the somnolent night watchman is a self-styled philosopher: "From time to time he got various ideas into his head. Usually other people's. The first idea was this: Life is a dream." The toy factory, where the watchman-philosopher works, turns out to be a top-secret weapons plant. These absurd tales, grounded in the perverseness of present-day Russian reality are what Kharms might have written were he alive today.

Born in 1962, Ronshin graduated with a degree in history from Petrozavodsk University in Karelia and went on to study at the Literature Institute in Moscow. He now lives in St Petersburg. He started writing relatively late but broke into top literary magazines almost immediately. Ronshin says that for the first thirty years he was "just living a life", moving from one provincial town to another and traveling on foot in Central Russia. He worked at different menial jobs and taught history for a spell before becoming a professional writer. Like Kharms, Ronshin is also a successful children's author with more than 20 books to his name. Unlike Kharms, he wrote the first detective novel for Russian children. Ronshin, whose children's stories appeal to grown-ups as well, considers that "a writer's job is to describe his age and die."