This is a truly wonderful book, I fell in love with the story! I haven't read many dystopian novels, but I'm sure that, in a couple of years, The Slynx
will be considered one of the best from this genre. So you should read it before it becomes a "classic". :)
It's the only novel of Tatyana Tolstaya, a Russian writer who is remotely related to Leo Tolstoy. Not his great-grandniece, but still. Her paternal grandfather was Aleksei Nikolaevich Tolstoi, also an important writer.
There are many invented words in this novel, including the title The Slynx/Kys/Zâtul
, so the translators surely had a tough job with this one. I avoided learning Russian in school (I chose French and English instead), so this is the only time I feel sorry for it, as it might have been a great experience to read the original.
Benedikt, the hero, lives in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, now a village called Fyodor-Kuzmichsk. The Blast
, a mysterious event that happened 200 years ago, erased all modern progress and mankind was thrown into a near savage-like state once again. Yet, there are a couple of survivors from the Blast (the Oldeners
and the Degenerators
), people who have known the world as it used to be, while those who were born afterwards suffer Consequences
(physical mutations) of all sorts. The golubchiks/gugustiucii
(as they call themselves) have almost no modern commodity, they don't even know how to make fire. And they feed mostly on mice, which are considered the basis of poor people's lives (mice are also used as currency). People have all kind of fears and superstitions: books that survived the Blast are considered dangerous, they avoid Freethinking
and are scared to death by the Slynx
, an invisible monster who lives in the woods. People are also afraid of the unmentionable Disease, which will bring the Saniturions
in order to "treat" them.
As I write this, I remember all the details and I feel like laughing again. It's so funny and imaginative that I was truly amazed. The first half is the best, the latter drags a bit, but it's still a wonderful book.