Oleg Sivun

Brand Novel. Novy Mir. Moscow 2008.
Awards: Novy Mir Award for the Best Novel 2008
Pushkin Award 2009

The hero and the novel’s first person narrator is passively subjected to the world’s brands and labels in alphabetical order. Their story is his story. He has absorbed them. He suffers with them and for them, he draws his life’s elixir from them, he is addicted to them in a kind of existential mimicry. For him there is no life beyond the horizon defined by brand names. He is a contemporary hero with no focal point any more, no central theme in his life, no central idea behind his existence - and this causes him no distress, he wants for nothing. He surfs the waves of our civilisation, submerged in the sea of commercial and cultural symbols, the appropriate soundtrack for every brand to hand.

It is the privilege of youth to be able to sever all links with background or with the past and to merge entirely with the present. It is the privilege of post-Soviet youth to have experienced the full force of the hypertrophic, proliferate manifestations of western commerce and culture in urban Russia. The English alphabet has since become a reference framework for young Russians as well. Each of the almost 5-page chapters has the same structure (Factum, Punctum, Soundtrack, Bonus). In FACTUM the hero shows that he is well-informed about his brands and, thanks to the internet, as up-to-date as the rest of his global generation. In the main PUNCTUM section we see how the hero and his brands interpret one another, always in accordance with a new logic which is no longer that of the critical intellectual. SOUNDTRACK provides the accompanying beat while BONUS is the expression of his bizarre imagination.