AST Publishers, Moscow
Rights acquired by
Ãˆditions de lâ€™Olivier, Paris
Gondolat Kiado, Budapest
Curtea Veche, Bucharest
Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne
Argo Publishers, Tallinn
Geopoetika Publishing, Belgrad
â€œâ€™ Sugar Kremlinâ€™ is even more frightening than â€œOne Day in the Life of an Oprichnik.â€ The living organism that is described there has stretched out its tentacles everywhere. A caricature of life twenty years from now is laid out before us in all its horror by an author with a cold and merciless view of life.â€ (Pre-publication review in Vlast)
â€œSugar Kremlinâ€ takes place in the same time period as Sorokinâ€™s â€œA Day in the Life of an Oprichnik,â€ in the year 2028. It is not, however, a sequel. The book consists of 15 chapters, stories, scenes, and miniatures, with different forms and different characters, but with a recurring item from the title: an exact copy of the snow-white Kremlin, with its towers and gates, made entirely out of sugar, the Russian sovereignâ€™s gift on Christmas Eve. Thousands of these marvelous creations are being given away on Red Square to lucky children, and also to some dissidents who delight in one at a secret meeting, as do beggars. There are also Sevastyanov, a civil servant at the Lyubyanka prison whose specialty is torture, a dwarf from the troupe of court-jesters at the Kremlin, and the whores in a bordello.
Andreas Tretner, Sorokinâ€™s German translator, says that â€œthe author has succeeded in turning the Sugar Kremlin into a leitmotiv, a meta-symbol that appears in each of the texts in different, original ways. It is simultaneously an object of devotion and an â€˜ersatzâ€™ satisfaction for the people, a consolation for them to suck on.
In contrast to â€œA Day in the Life of an Oprichnik,â€ with its linear progression, â€œSugar Kremlinâ€ is a puzzle of colorful episodes that come together as a portrait of totalitarian society as a whole. As Sorokin moves from story to story, he draws the reader through the dark side streets of life in Russia, creating a sort of metaphysical encyclopedia of the Russian soul. In an interview with Grani.ru, Sorokin said â€œIâ€™ve tried to distill the taste of an extract of Russian power. Itâ€™s the taste that you get when you mix vodka, snow and bloodâ€”with six teaspoons of sugar added.â€
The author himself calls â€œSugar Kremlinâ€ a â€œGreek Choirâ€. Sorokin is considered a writer with an unlimited palette of styles and all the colors that this puts at his disposal. In one book, he presents a wide variety of genres and tones, with far-ranging aesthetic methodsâ€”from an ironic mini-remake of his first novel â€œThe Queue,â€ to a reprise of the style of parody that was â€œMarinaâ€™s Thirtieth Love.â€