“Shatuny [The Sublimes] was first published in Russia only after the collapse of the Soviet system. Before that, it was published in the West. The reaction in the West was unusual. One American reviewer noted that the world was not ready for such a book. I believe now it is perfectly ready for this book.”
– Yuri Mamleyev on The Sublimes
Yuri Mamleyev’s The Sublimes will finally appear in an English translation with its launch at the London Book Fair this April and the opening chapter, in all its stark strangeness, was featured in the most recent Saturday European Fiction in B O D Y.
Though considered highly influential for contemporary Russian writers such as Vladimir Sorokin and Victor Erofeyev there isn’t much information about him in English – not surprising since there isn’t much of his work available in English yet, though there’s a withering and somewhat insipid review on The Kirkus Review of his English language collection – The Sky Above Hell and Other Stories, which includes a previous translation of an abridged version of The Sublimes. The review characterizes Mamleyev as a “a philosophical, Russian Roald Dahl”, which makes me picture Raskolnikov getting the golden ticket to go to Willy Wonka’s factory and poor Anna Karenina avoiding the train only to get tossed down the chute for bad eggs, with Vronsky sullenly following her. Fun for kids of all ages!
Among the resources for the English-speaking reader is a five-part interview conducted by Haute Culture Books publisher Luis de Miranda with the author in which Mamleyev discusses writing The Sublimes, Dostoevsky’s influence, the feebleness of modern people in the face of death and on how inconceivable it was that a book like this would have been published in the Soviet era as opposed to in samizdat, among other topics:
There are also some articles on the writer:
The negative World of Yuri Mamleyev from zhurnal.ru
A background piece from his literary agent
Photos – Russian covers of Shatuny (The Sublimes)