The Matiushin Case is among the most powerful recent works of Russian fiction. Deriving, like Captain of the Steppe (2013, And Other Stories), from Oleg Pavlov's experience of the declining Soviet Union, it follows Matiushin, a young man damaged by brutality at home and then in the army. Drawing on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's "labor-camp writing," Oleg Pavlov builds a unique tension between the horrors of conscription and the dreamlike, timeless mode of his writing. Matiushin's "crime and punishment" thus emerge with compelling inevitability; the victim turns killer. This hell is above all psychological--and no less universal than those of Dante or Dostoevsky.
Oleg Pavlov is one of the most highly-regarded contemporary Russian writers. He won the Russian Booker Prize in 2002 and the Solzhenitsyn Prize in 2012.
Earn by promoting books
Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.Become an affiliate
About the Author
"Captain of the Steppe combines a traditional Russian faith in the humanising power of literature with a boisterous energy and imagination. Pavlov wrote two further army novels which, along with "Captain of the Steppe", have become known as the "Tales of the Last Days" trilogy, and we can be grateful that both are due for publication by And Other Stories." Michael Nicholson, "The Times Literary Supplement"
"Pavlov skillfully navigates the razor-thin gap between dark comedy and tragedy" "Words without Borders"
"A comedy as dark and bitter as ersatz coffee." "Daily Mail"
"An extraordinary portraitist, with a nose for trenchant, black humour, Oleg Pavlov delves into the shadowy outer edges of existence." "France Culture"
"Poetry, sensuality, humour, metaphoric genius" Philippe Delaroche, "L'Express Culture avec Lire"
Winner of the Solzhenitsyn Prize 2012 and the Russian Booker Prize 2002 Praise for The Matiushin Case "This lucid translation of Pavlov's powerful quasi-autobiographical novel confronts the horror of Russian history ... a timeless quest for existential meaning and deals with the horror of Russian history through the microcosm of an individual's journey into hell." Phoebe Taplin, The Guardian (UK) "Pavlov is revered by some as a philosophical genius whose books capture the essence of Russia and dismissed by others as a drunken grumbler. His powerfully intimate, quasi-autobiographical 1997 novel The Matiushin Case, now in English, charts the experiences of an impressionable conscript gradually dehumanised by army life." Phoebe Taplin, The Guardian (UK) "Russian Booker Prize winner Pavlov (Captain of the Steppe) plunges readers into the grim realities of Soviet military life in the early 1980s...Bromfield, well-known for his translations of contemporary Russian literature, ably renders Pavlov's prose with extremes of lyricism and banality. Pavlov pulls off a harrowing tale about institutional cruelty and the perversions of character that it produces." Publishers Weekly "Written in a bare, stilted style, it never plays for the high drama ... choosing instead to beat steadily on from one absurdity to the next, coolly piling horror on top of horror...Seen through a lens softened by exhaustion and cheap vodka, Pavlov's dark picture of existence becomes wryly amusing and often almost whimsical in its black humour." Ross McIndoe, The Skinny "[A] small stunner: brutal, salty, pulsing with hallucinatory beauty and lyrical grace ... Pavlov's portrait of helpless young men trapped in an insane system comes out as a sly, sad, occasionally joyous tragicomedy about power, helplessness, escape, and what it's like to be young." Booktrust "Images of violence and pain linger with the reader long after the book is finished. Not for the faint hearted." Scarlett MccGwire, Tribune "[A] descent into an uncaring military world." San Francisco Book Review Praise for Captain of the Steppe "Pavlov imbues his world with a very particular flavour: the mixture of tragedy, absurdity and black comedy that runs in the veins of Russian literature as far back as the work of Nikolai Gogol ... Pavlov fashions a disquieting and comic elegy." Marcel Theroux "Captain of the Steppe combines a traditional Russian faith in the humanising power of literature with a boisterous energy and imagination. Pavlov wrote two further army novels which, along with Captain of the Steppe, have become known as the Tales of the Last Days trilogy, and we can be grateful that both The Matiushin Case and Requiem for a Soldierare due for publication by And Other Stories." Michael Nicholson, The Times Literary Supplement "A comedy as dark and bitter as ersatz coffee." Daily Mail "Pavlov skillfully navigates the razor-thin gap between dark comedy and tragedy" Words without Borders "An extraordinary portraitist, with a nose for trenchant, black humour, Oleg Pavlov delves into the shadowy outer edges of existence." France Culture "Poetry, sensuality, humour, metaphoric genius" Philippe Delaroche, L'Express Culture avec Lire