Vladimir Makanin, born in 1937 in the Urals, was trained as a
mathematician and later as a film-maker.
His first passion was chess and then the cinema, but his highly individual stories won him instant fame among the Russian intelligentsia during the years of the Thaw. Makanin became widely known with the publication in 1982 of Forebears, a novel about a faith healer.
His novels have been particularly successful in translation in Germany, France, Spain, and Eastern Europe. The better known works are available in English: Voices (in Dissonant Voices, Harvill, 1991), Antileader (Abbeville, USA), Blue and Red, The Laggard, and Two Solitudes. His novel Manhole was shortlisted for the Booker Russian Novel Prize in 1992, while Baize-Covered Table with Decanter won the Prize. in 1993 and was published in English by Readers International in 1995.
BAIZE-COVERED TABLE WITH DECANTER
Table with Decanter won the Prize in 1993
and Readers International
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hero of Baize-Covered Table undergoes a searching bureaucratic
investigation, that staple of the old Soviet and even older Russian
police state. With the naked intensity of a personal nightmare, the
hero visits and returns to the stark scene of his inquisition: the
bare room, the table, the ever-present decanter, and behind the
table those recurring phantoms, 'The Party Man', 'The Young Wolf',
'The Almost Pretty Woman', 'The One Who Asks the Questions'.
"It's the table that gives power to the people behind it," says Makanin. "Take it away and they're just ordinary folk, you and me, your best friends maybe. I've lived with these phantoms from childhood. Any Russian - it's an old Russian nightmare we're dealing with, not just a Soviet one - would recognise the situation. Having them rummage in your insides, being helpless, belittled. You needn't have done anything to realise your helplessness, your guilt."
"An outstanding work of Russian prose." (Times Literary Supplement)
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