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MENDELEEV ROCK

Two short novels from DEBUT

Andrei Kuzechkin, Mendeleev Rock
Pavel Kostin, Rooftop Anesthesia

Translated by Andrew Bromfield

paper ISBN 9785717200899
ebook ISBN 9785717201056
360 pp.

The action in Mendeleev Rock takes place in a typical provincial town in Central Russia and presents a gallery of recognizable modern-day types: radically minded youths, ruthless thugs, drunken intellectual, Christian sectarians, the local elite and failed fortune seekers. The hero is yearning for faraway glamorous cities and tries to find his identity. He used to be the leader of a rock group “Adenoma” that at some point in the past had a brief success but then fell apart. In search of positive inspiration, he visits all sorts of weird places including a religious sect and a local criminal gang. The hero is torn between his two loves, and finally makes his choice in favor of a wild punk girl just to be abandoned by her without any apparent reason.

The novel is a vivid portrait of the modern generation: young people in their late teens and early 20s stunned by their first painful contacts with the harsh reality. Kuzechkin traces the fatal periods in each character’s life as if it were a case history of a mortal disease: infection, incubation period, illness, crisis, agony, clinical death. However, the epilogue is aptly called “Reincarnation” offering a life-asserting finale.

“Kuzechkin’s style sparkles with colorful dialogues, street talk and bon mots… Very good read… For many people this short novel may become a manual of survival…” – Novy Mir magazine

“Kuzechkin’s book reads effortlessly… it is a fine contribution to the Nizhni Novgorod page in Russian literature.” – Novaya Gazeta

Andrei Kuzechkin, born in 1982, grew up in a small town near Nizhni Novgorod on the Volga. Graduate of the Nizhny Novgorod University, majoring in philology, he worked as a village teacher, street cleaner, hospital security guard, librarian, and animator. He plays a harmonica and sings with the blues-punk band “2000 R”. He is a winner of the annual prize of October magazine and a finalist in the Debut Prize for his novel Mendeleev Rock. His other published books include Aborigine-digest, All The Ten Fingers, and Magma.

Rooftop Anesthesia is a story of a misadventure. Out of boredom one young man invents a weird entertainment: climbing down from abandoned high-risers on a rope. He has to find assistants for his trick. The first one is a girl who came to recruit him into some sort of a totalitarian organization, almost a sect, promoting new morality. The girl becomes the ideologist of the venture. The second assistance is found over the internet, he thinks of various paraphernalia for the act, including special loose robes. Soon they become city celebrities and their hobby is followed by many others. But with the fame come PR managers and take the sport venture into their hands. Soon the young people find themselves selling tee-shirts with the brand name: “City Apostles”. The initial “merry rage” which inspired them to start the sport in the first place expires to be replaced by cold calculation of the organizers and silly amazement of the followers.

“Kostin follows the best traditions of 20th century Russian literature. His characters are real heroes who are not averse to the currently unfashionable romantic aspirations. Their quest for the truth brings disillusionment but at the same time humility, a rare virtue nowadays. And they also come to realize that no matter what happens while there is life there is hope.” – Novy Mir magazine

Pavel Kostin was born in 1981 in Kaliningrad where upon graduation from the local university he worked in journalism. After several years in the press service of the State Drug Control he did a regular TV program on drug addiction. It was then that he wrote his first novel on the subject, The Runner, nominated for the Debut Prize, soon followed by Rooftop Anesthesia, which was a Debut finalist. Both novels are devoted to young people’s tendency towards escapism and their feeling of loneliness in a big city. They were published under the same cover in 2007. Currently he is engaged in developing computer games and game design.