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Publishers Weekly: "A powerful interwoven narrative"

Date: Jul 18 2011

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12 Who Don't Agree

 

Valery Panyushkin, trans. by Marian Schwartz. Europa, $15 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-60945-010-6

 

Russian journalist Panyushkin (Something Unnoticeable) creates a powerful interwoven narrative about twelve citizens with different backgrounds but a shared final destination--the historic 2007 March of the Dissidents. In Russia, even the most trivial matters seem to reach the top: corruption, cover-ups, and social injustice are the blueprints for government policy; political satire is still considered subversive; and Putin's brutal order is upheld. As Panyushkin writes: "Fear can have an amazing effect… And the regime takes advantage of that." The varying impact on Russian citizens is superbly depicted. Marina Litvinovich succumbs to the lure of being "initiated into the secret, even if the secret stank." Amidst the terrorist attacks in Beslan, onlookers witness the altruism of Vissarion Aseyev. The image of Maria Gaidar dangling from a bridge yelling "Russia without Putin!" is understandably arresting. All walks of life are represented, from bliss in ignorance to "revolutionary romanticism," and Panyushkin's uncompromising style places each character profile in a larger context. His compassionate yet candid outlook lends poignancy to individual portraits, with inflections of wisdom and occasional humor. Remaining defiant in the face of oppression, it is a testament to Panyushkin's talent that the plight of those involved is what ultimately resonates. (July)