Ilya Boyashov. A Swindler and a Monk

Author: Ilya Boyashov
Title: A Swindler and a Monk

Year: 2007

A SWINDLER AND A MONK PROVIDES A READER WITH THE MIX OF RUSSIAN EPIC TRADITION, VIVID AND ELEGANT STYLE AND THE PLOT COVERING A CONSIDERABLE PERIOD OF RUSSIAN AND WORLD HISTORY.

The sensational winner of the National Bestseller Prize 2007, Boyashov abides by his favourite genre of parable. The last Russian tsar and the execution of his family, the World War I and October revolution, Stalin’s camps, and at last, another War of the 40ies. This all is shown through the stories of two totally different characters representing two poles apart. The first – Alexei, a son of prosperous peasant, the only kid in a family, nourished by an obsessed with him mother – is doomed to become a hard-core criminal. Another – his namesake, an offspring of a village prostitute and an unknown father, supposed to die in the early childhood – is to become a true believer and a monk, saving hundreds of lost souls in this terrible period of Russian history. Their paths are to cross and fork. But they both bear some integral part of Russian identity that is represented in a tragic but still optimistic way. It is the figure of the third Alexei – last Russian prince, afflicted with haemophilia – that provides for another facet of this bipolar narration and gives a lurid and sorrowful feeling to a reader.
Boyashov manages to touch extremely painful subjects using an extremely playful approach. As a result – we have another philosophic tale of an immense power and wisdom that is comprehensible to anyone.