Zakhar Prilepin’s novel-in-stories Sin has become a literary phenomenon in Russia, where it was published in 2007. It has been hailed as the epitome of the spirit of the opening decade of the 21st century, and was called “the book of the decade” by the prestigious Super Natsbest Award jury. Now available for the first time in English, it not only embodies the reality of post-perestroika Russia, but also shows that even in this reality, just like in any other, it is possible to maintain a positive attitude while remaining human.
Zakharka is young, strong, in love with love and with life’s random, telling moments. In the episodes of his life, presented here in non-chronological order, we see him as a little boy, a lovelorn teenager, a hard-drinking grave-digger, a nightclub bouncer, a father, and a soldier in Chechnya. He even writes poetry, and his stylistically varied verses are presented in the penultimate chapter of the book. Loving life, he looks boldly, and even with curiosity, into the face of death – taking pictures of the deceased at a funeral, staring with agitation at the entrails of a just-disemboweled pig, chronicling the death of a childhood friend – and values the freedom of not fearing his own end. It is family that ultimately defines happiness for Zakharka; but it is also family that makes him realize, on the desolate Chechen border, that his love for them has deprived him of this freedom.
Sin offers a fascinating glimpse into the recent Russian past, as well as its present, with its unemployment, poverty, violence, and local wars – social problems that may be found in many corners of the world. Zakhar Prilepin presents these realities through the eyes of Zakharka, taking us along on the life-affirming journey of his unforgettable protagonist.
Translated by Simon Patterson and Nina Chordas.
For more information about this publication please consult the following website dedicated exclusively to Sin.
"In a sense, being a well-formed character for Prilepin is a kind of death sentence – you are finished, fully-drawn. It is Zakhar the blank slate who will survive, the one stubbornly resisting everything from journalism to poetry to work to commitment, but who you sense is reading, feeling his way towards writing and family and is on the way to becoming the Zakhar who will eventually be capable of writing this phenomenal book." literalab
"At 36, he (Prilepin) is one of Russia’s most acclaimed authors, and his novel Sin was voted one of the most important books to come out of Russia in the past decade." Anna Nemtsova, The Telegraph
"The book itselfis essentially a novel-instories, tracking the life of Zakharka from a small central Russian village to a distant military outpost in Chechnya. These episodes are non-chronologically arranged, and the novel opens with Zakharka as a young journalist in the midst of a passionate love affair in an unnamed provincial town." Lewis White, The Scotland-Russia review
“And he (Prilepin) is probably the most important writer in modern Russia, a sensitive and intelligent critic of his country’s condition. To understand Russia today, you need to understand Prilepin — first and foremost because he doesn’t fit into the preconceptions most outsiders have about the place. Prilepin is an intensely male writer—like Ernest Hemingway, he’s intoxicated with the rituals and bonds of maleness, and, by extension, war, which he sees as the ultimate test of manhood.” Russia’s Young Hemingway/ NEWSWEEK MAGAZINE
“It’s hard to explain the effect of Zakhar Prilepin’s book called Грех (Sin), which won this year’s National Bestseller prize. The book describes itself as a novel in short stories – not quite accurate, since there is also a section of poetry – and each piece about a young man named Zakhar establishes its own mood. All the stories, though, combine threads of tenderness, rage, and тоска (toska), an untranslatable Russian word that represents a sort of soulful yearning and worry.” LIZOK’S BOOKSHELF
"It is an intensely human story that takes you to a different place that, at the same time, feels familiar". BOOKVIEWS by ALAN CARUBA
“Zakhar Prilepin’s obsession with exploring the nature of Russian identity roots the book in a particular literary tradition. But his dark vision of Russian life in the novel Sin reveals that life can, and perhaps will, get better.” RUSSIA BEYOUND THE HEADLINES
“Amid chaos, instead of complaining or joining criminals, Zakhar keeps his human dignity and integrity. He enjoys what he has and life as it is. He loves and is being loved. For Zakhar, under the veil of male toughness and physical strength, there is also a caring and tender heart.“ Damira Davletyarova, Ottawa Life Magazine.
“Prilepin is the biggest event in today’s Russian literature; his language reminds us of Tolstoy,” Tatyana Tolstaya, famous Russian writer
“This book gives you the impulse to live your life to the fullest without shallow hesitations,” Dmitry Bykov, famous Russian writer and journalist
“ … this writer has simply become a phenomenon which is impossible to ignore,” ALEXANDER GARROS, famous Russian writer
Interview with Zakhar Prilepin:
Zakhar Prilepin was born near Ryazan in 1975. Prilepin had a varied life before dedicating himself to writing, spending time as a student, as a labourer, as a journalist and as a soldier, serving with the Special Forces in Chechnya. More recently Prilepin has come to the public attention not only as one of the best writers of his generation, but as a committed, and often controversial, political activist on behalf of the ‘Other Russia’ coalition. Prilepin lives in Nizhny Novgorod where he is the regional editor of independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta. His website is one of the most popular author's sites in Russia.
Prilepin's combination of lucid prose and social consciousness has made him one of the most popular and acclaimed writers in Russia today and drawn comparisons with the Russian classics. His novel Sankya, which draws on his own experiences to depict life among young political extremists, was shortlisted for the Russian Booker in 2007, when it also won the Yasnaya Polyana Award and the Best Foreign Novel of the Year Award in China. Prilepin's works have been translated into numerous foreign languages; regrettably, English-speaking readers have as yet had to content themselves with a handful of short stories.
The Super Natsbest Prize 2011
The National Bestseller Prize 2008
Alexander Nevsky Award “The True Sons of Russia” 2007
The Russian Booker Prize 2006
To book Zakhar Prilepin for speaking engagements, please visit Glagoslav Speakers.