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Roman Senchin


a novel

240 pp., ISBN 978-5-7172-0083-7

Translated by Arch Tait

"Minus depicts post-Soviet Siberians as people with dormant inner power languishing in the cage of their circumstances. The narrator, a young man named Roman, and his friends are the losers in the new Russian society. Their life is shown with painful veracity." — Die Welt

"Roman Senchin has succeeded in portraying the very heart of today's 'superfluous people'. This tradition in Russian literature goes back to Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, followed by a long gallery of other superfluous people. Chekhov paid much attention to the theme of superfluous romantics daydreaming in some deep Russian province. Senchin's vivid autobiographical narrative immerses us in a dismal life reminiscent of Lermontov's 'hero of our times', another 'superfluous man'. Senchin depicts this type in modern settings, with a touch of irony typical of today's young people. Minus is in fact a manifesto of the Russian Generation X, which replaced the Soviet generation. They live without faith, without aspirations, without hopes for the future." — Tagesspiegel

Roman Senchin, born in 1971, grew up in Siberia. The family had to flee his native Tuva and move to Minusinsk as a result of the post-Soviet nationalist strife that flared up there. Recently he moved to Moscow. Senchin is one of the most talented and expressive spokesmen for his generation and a leader of the so-called "New Realism" which tends towards narrative nonfiction. He has five novels and many short stories to his name and has won several prestigious literary prizes. His work has been translated into German, French and other languages. Minus was published in Germany by DuMont to very good reviews.

Minus, a nickname for the Siberian town of Minusinsk, describes a group of disillusioned young men uprooted by the collapse of the USSR. They have no more fighting spirit left and their only consolation is drink and drugs. In contrast, their parents, the generation of the romantic 1960s, are depicted as survivors against all odds, although often that means abandoning their professions, grow their own food and go into street trade. Another contrast is created by the vigorous backstage life of the local drama theater where the protagonist works as a stagehand.
Senchin provides a highly visual, almost photographic portrayal of people and events, including a wealth of ethnographic details that you don't find in any guidebook.

Sample writing excerpt from the book