Viktor Remizov

Iskushenie Temptation
Novel. Arsis. Moscow 2016. 368 pages
Foreign rights: Bulgaria, France

The provincial town of Belorechensk lies is situated near Irkutsk at the confluence of two Siberian rivers. The cousins Katya and Nastya are young and pretty, healthy and self-confident. But Katya's father is critically ill and the family is in dire straits. And so the cousins consider trying their luck in far off Moscow. Mainly in the hope of earning some money for the family and also, perhaps, of having a chance of escaping the cheerless province for ever. Unaware of the price the moloch Moscow will demand they set off.

At home they were Russian citizens; in Moscow they are just refugees, like Tajiks, Azerbaijanis, Georgians. The novel tells the story of what it is like to be a migrant in one's own country. Contrary to the traditional approach of Russian literature, the melting-pot of Moscow is not sweepingly depicted as depressing or heartless. We view this Moscow from below in a series of nuanced close-ups. Above all it is with Katya's open-mindedness that the novel presents the common people, how they struggle to live and to survive - in both the big city and the province. Even the Siberian town of Belorechensk is not portrayed as paradise on earth, neither before the girls’ adventures nor afterwards. And even the ending, when both cousins return pregnant to Siberia, cannot really be called happy.

Soberly and without exaggerated literary effects, the author shows us the naked truth about the life of the younger generation in Russia. Nothing seems to be imagined or added. It is, in principle, Katya's simple and guileless words that we hear. And hence the novel becomes authentic and believable, giving the reader an opportunity for sympathy. For us, ordinary, simple people like Katya, Nastya, Andrei and Aleksei are often not worth thinking about, in the same way as we do not consider the air we breathe. But in the novel they suddenly become fellow human beings. The novel is about the air that we all breathe; and about love in times of temptation.

TEMPTATION is, unlike Remizov‘s first novel VOLYA VOLNAYA, an airy and sensitive story for female reader.