Viktor Remizov


“This is by far the most interesting sample text I have translated in recent times.“ ANDREW BROMFIELD

„Remizov's novel contains many valuable details that cannot be invented. He collected them all, listened, spied, saw, remembered. Many historical details that cannot be found in Solzhenitsyn, Shalamov and others.“ NATSBEST VERONIKA KUNGURTSEVA

„«Permafrost» is a Siberian, northern, historical, industrial novel ... The death in it is always connected with life that arises and continues even under these most inhuman conditions. A seemingly gloomy story into which a light shines that always comes after darkness and that cannot exist without darkness.“

It seems to me that this book is promised a long life not only because it invites our society with courageous persistence to rediscover the truth about themselves that is already being pushed into the skeleton cupboard – this act is dramatically important, even if it is a reaction on the current (hopefully) historical moment. The book will also live on for a long time because it shows the reader the miracle of creation, which is revealed here in the literary expression of the East Siberian landscape, and because it shows the fragile dependence of this miracle on the good and bad will of people. As in every milestone in literature, "poetry and truth" (remember Goethe's saying) come together here. The hard truth of a national-historical epoch and the wondrous poetry of a world created by God ...

„Remizov's novel is neither ideological nor precocious: the author succeeds in immersing the reader in a past that is so meticulously and thoroughly described that one feels carried away by the plot – on a densely populated construction site, in a breathtaking natural setting, in taiga and tundra, in the prison camp, in the torture cellar of the NKVD, in the village restaurant on New Year's Eve, at school, in Aul in Kazakhstan, in the shelters where exiled settlers have surrendered to the grace of the elements. The book contains a lot of Soviet pathos from those years, slogans, red-brown posters, party conferences, but not an ounce of pathos from the author. Like his young captain, he leads the reader confidently through the wild nature of the taiga river, on which his three hundred hp steam tug "Polyarny" drives and supplies material for the construction site, coal and lawless people in the sealed, stinking holds of the barges. You think you've already read a lot, but thanks to the amazing abundance of material everything looks new: details, terms, boats, breaks (barges with flat bottoms), steamers and people, their clothes, gait, experiences, fear and courage are described meticulously and lovingly so that you believe the text and turn the pages of this epic novel without being able to tear yourself away. Everything serves the one plan: to immerse the reader in the past, to allow him to listen to the endless conversations of the characters, to discuss, praise, condemn the time in which they happen to live or some also die... In this permafrost there is also a place for love, desperate but reliable; honesty, sometimes naive; ideals, strong and unchangeable.“

„A great book. Excellent prose and wonderful language. An epic about our recent Soviet past and the last of the great Stalinist construction projects. The novel does not contain the horrors of Shalamov's prose. On the contrary, it is a leisurely, almost everyday description of the hero's life, whether in Moscow, in Siberian cities or behind the barbed wire, that takes the reader into that world. The book is amazingly cinematographic. The text is projected onto the screen, so to speak, and one involuntarily begins to see and experience the events with the heroes. Many events in the novel take place against the backdrop of the endless Siberian taiga and the Yenisei. These two forces of nature, infinitely free and stubborn, are also heroes of the novel. I repeat that the novel does not contain a description of the horrors of the camp, but the acquaintance with everyday camp life caused a real emotional shock in me. The book is very sincere, you won't find anything invented or any of the cinematic or literary stereotypes about that time. On the contrary, the actions and feelings of the heroes, the everyday details of their lives and the unwritten laws of the GULAG are perceived as if the author had experienced it first hand.“

„I haven't read anything like that in Russian in the 21st century! A really great novel that is not inferior to the most important works of the 20th century. It is absolutely impossible to put it down. But above all the power of the effect. Let me give you an example. At home, it's usually 22 degrees and my clothes at home, like many others, are a T-shirt and shorts. And so I sit at the computer and read an episode of how a barely alive horse pulls a drinking water sledge through Ermakovo during the terrible frosts. And how terribly the harness creaks. The frost is creaking, the insulation on the tap ... And suddenly I realized that I was not sitting there in a T-shirt, but in a winter down jacket that I had taken out of the closet without even realizing it.“

„Thanks for the truth. It is the truth without a doubt. We have to remember that. That’s how it was.“


„First of all, Remizov knows what he is writing about. He knows his subject – winter hunting, taiga fishing, life on the shores of the Okhotsk Sea. But this is not just a story by an expert. And this is not just a literary work with colourful, memorable, and realistic male characters. What strikes here is that this is a novel that poses the traditional Russian question neither as “to be or not to be” nor as “who is guilty and what is to be done.” The true question here is “what is worth killing and/or dying for?” Always settled individually, and often unconsciously this question has not been raised in the fiction of recent decades. Well, here it comes.“

„Victor Remizov is not just a traditional prose writer, he is a traditional writer par excellence: intelligent, calculating, comprehensive, slow-paced as a taiga fisherman... Remizov’s novel is social and analytical. Victor Remizov did not show us a full-fledged Russian revolt, but he showed us a very Russian clamour and outcry. And the coercive justice that always follows the clamour. This already suffices.“

"This first novel by Viktor Remizov crackles with suspense fit for a movie, complemented by solid characters, spectacular descriptions of nature and perceptive observations on the state of modern Russia."

"A raw book about a raw Russian region."

"A excellently written novel, completely in the tradition of classic Russian literature with descriptions of nature and exceptional characters just waiting to be turned into a movie."

"Viktor Remizov, born in 1958, is not a person who comes up with adventures he would never get involved with himself. He knows the shores of the Okhotsk Sea and the heroes whose souls he explores. What is the power of this relatively late novel? His poetry, of course, his humanity, but above all the fact that he puts one of the main themes of Russian literature back on the agenda: Why live when you don't know what you're willing to die for?"

"Russian Far East. Thousands of square kilometers of taiga, rich in game. No signs of human presence except hunters hunting for ermine and salmon. An idyll from ancient times? Not at all. On the contrary, in "Free and Wild" Victor Remizov shows the plundering of this royal nature. Because hunting and fishing are considered here as poaching according to the law. Poaching, which the locals engage in in order to balance the apathy of the state and secure their own survival."

"A great novel with an amazing sense of detail and epic."


"In the plethora on the shelves of the bookshops, novels about the lives of the common people in Russia are extremely rare. One of these rare books is Viktor Remizov's «Temptation». It is to be hoped that those in the corridors of power will look into such books. Perhaps then there would be changes for the better. Without villages or provincial towns such as described by Remizov, Russia will not have a future."

"This novel is also an exploration of Moscow where the most stunning luxury and poverty coexist, where provincials from very different cultures live together, where two shattered heroines discover how much they actually love their far away Siberia."

"Remizov realistically tells the (crossing) paths of a Russian youth with betrayed ideals in a city jungle where everything is allowed. The journey of his two heroines, who are so generous, graceful and lovable, sends a cold shiver down your spine."

"«Temptation» is a great Russian-style novel. Victor Remizov paints these two Russias, the one of Moscow which has only contempt for those who live in the countryside or who come from the republics of the former USSR in the hope of earning a living there... And «Katia, a dreamer, slowly turned around and, with a wave of her hand, sketched the snow and the great sky of Belorechensk» and confided: «I thought we didn't pay enough attention to the purity around us. Pure souls, we don't notice them, while the scoundrels jump out at us...»"

"A novel about the dream of young Russian girls, attracted by everything that shines on the Moscow side but, the dream can become a nightmare!"