Vasily Aksenov. Zero Time

Author: Vasily Aksenov
Title: Zero Time

Year: 2011

“ZERO TIME” IS A NOVEL FULL OF NOT EXACTLY MAGIC, BUT A CERTAIN STYLISTIC AURA THANKS TO THE READING OF WHICH ONE EXPERIENCES AN ALMOST PHYSICAL PLEASURE THAT IS SUSTAINED WITH THE TURNING OF EACH NEW PAGE. A FEAT OF PEASANT LANGUAGE PROSE, THIS BOOK EXPOSES THE FOLK SOUL ALONG WITH ITS FATE.

In the contemporary Russian literature Aksenov plays the same role as Solzhenitsyn and Abramov played in Soviet literature – he is the voice of a Siberian village.
Utilizing honest peasant language to portray conversations between characters, this novel tells the story of the intoxicated return of a writer, from the dying Siberian village of his birth, to Saint Petersburg, where he had taken up residence a long time ago, but hadn’t acquired a home for some reason.
He visits his village every summer, to spend time with his drab old mother, help her with the housework, and to meditate (or as they call in Russian, “to think about life”). However, upon his return to Saint Petersburg this time, the writer receives a telegram informing him of his mother’s death. And so he begins his journey back home once again.
At minimum, three different time periods collide in this novel. Istomin (the narrator) remembers, or makes up his ancestors, meets up with 40-year-old peers, and along with the splitting of reality, ponders the variable common past.
The plot and characters presented in this book come together to create the very fabric and language of the text. It is an unusual language, rarely encountered in literature, and well worth a read.