November 18, 2011

“Shocking” Russian novelist descends on Stanford


Vladimir Sorokin

Vladimir Sorokin, author of The Queue, Day of the Oprichnik, and The Ice Trilogy, is wrapping up month as writer-in-residence at Stanford University. Known as much for his shocking scenes (sex between clones of Stalin and Krushchev in his novel Blue Lard helped lead to Russia’s first post-Soviet criminal case against an author) as for his cutting-edge dystopian fiction, Sorokin has published 14 novels in addition to plays, film scripts, short stories, and even an opera libretto. Once an underground writer who could only distribute his work in samizdat, he has now been published in at least 20 languages and is one of Russia’s most prominent novelists.

Getting Sorokin out to Stanford was quite a feat:

“We know it’s a coup because of the number of people who have tried to jump on the bandwagon,” said Monika Greenleaf, associate professor of Slavic languages and literatures and of comparative literature, introducing the writer on Tuesday. She told the small crowd that some fans had flown from as far away as Chicago, and other institutions tried to book him for side junkets. “They asked us, ‘How on earth did you do this?'”

Sorokin’s plan for his time at Stanford was to focus on “the process of cultural relationships between the students and me.”