It’s hard to be sentimental about a Cold War childhood if you grew up on the Soviet side, in the forgotten Belorussian Republic, in a crumbling industrial city like Mogilev. But it’s even harder when your friends kick your ass and piss on your beloved collection of model cars.
With USSR – a big title for an intimate story – Vladimir Kozlov offers an unforgettable perspective on the 1980s, when all that matters in a boy’s life is Soviet rock and roll , neighborhood fights , and clumsy attempts at masturbation. With Gorbachev and Reagan lurking in the background and the Soviet economy on the verge of complete collapse, Kozlov presents life on the streets of Mogilev through the raw emotions and diabolical slang of kids who cannot fathom a world outside their own.
Like a fucked-up Soviet spin on The Wonder Years, USSR reminds us that to be young is to be ruled by embarrassment and terror. But it wouldn’t bother you to grow up on the crumbling edge of the Soviet Union, if only your friends would stop kicking your ass.
“In this important novel, leading Russian cultural critic Kozlov, a kind of Russian Chuck Klosterman, puts us right smack in the hearts and minds of those who experienced firsthand the most wrenching socio-political transformation of the Twentieth Century.” — Jeff Parker, author of Where Bears Roam the Streets: A Russian Journal and Ovenman
“With his tender story of struggle and patience, of individuality and the collective, Vladimir Kozlov has written a novel of quiet and ferocious intelligence, an irresistible read for anyone with even a passing interest in the ways of the Motherland.” — Nathan Deuel, author of Friday Was the Bomb
“Other than Vladimir Kozlov, I can think of no contemporary Russian writer possessed of quite the same keen, unerring ear for the characteristic jagged pacing and sudden concatenations of “Soviet” parlance, or someone gifted with a comparable sharpness of vision when it comes to the myriad minute details which used to define and regulate the comforting bleakness of regular Soviet people’s existence.” — Mikhail Iossel (from the Foreword)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vladimir Kozlov was born in 1972 in the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. His fiction and nonfiction has been long-listed for awards in Russia such as the National Bestseller prize and the Big Book prize. In 2011 and 2012 he was nominated for GQ Russia’s Writer of the Year. English translations of his writing have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, AGNI, the Tin House Books anthology Rasskazy and Best European Fiction 2014. Recently he has been making independent films, including a groundbreaking documentary about the influential Siberian punk rock movement of the 1980s.
Translated from the Russian by Andrea Gregovich
Paperback / 230 pages / 8.5 x 5.5″ / ISBN 9780989961516
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