Olga Grushin’s astonishing literary debut has won her comparisons with everyone from Gogol to Nabokov. A virtuoso study in betrayal and its consequences, it explores—really, colonizes—the consciousness of Anatoly Sukhanov, who many years before abandoned the precarious existence of an underground artist for the perks of a Soviet apparatchik. But, at the age of 56, his perfect life is suddenly disintegrating. Buried dreams return to haunt him. New political alignments threaten to undo him. Vaulting effortlessly from the real to the surreal and from privilege to paranoia, The Dream Life of Sukhanov is a darkly funny, demonically entertaining novel.
When glasnost collapsed the rigid structures of Soviet art and culture in the 1980's, most attention went to those who had been freed from repression. In The Dream Life of Sukhanov, her ironic, surreal, sometimes stunning and always chaotic novel, Olga Grushin writes about those who had been doing the repressing.