Nikolaļ Maslov Siberia

ISBN 13: 9781933368030

Siberia

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9781933368030: Siberia

In 2000, Nikolaï Maslov, a night watchman and self-taught artist, asked Emmanuel Durand, a French book salesman in Moscow, to look at three panels from a graphic novel he had drawn. Stunned by the intensity of the work, Durand offered Maslov a modest advance to quit his job and finish the book. The result is this extraordinary visual portrayal of Russian life and spirit.

Awash in alcohol from the first pages to the last, Siberia charts Maslov’s bleak path through the labyrinths of the Soviet system, from the desolate Siberian countryside, to military service with the Red Army in Mongolia, to the psychiatric hospital where he was admitted after his brother’s death. Drawn entirely in pencil on paper, the book’s nuanced gray tones document with unremitting clarity and delicate nuance the austere Siberian landscape, the bad vodka, the daily brawls, the cynicism and violence of life in Siberia, but also the perseverance and hope of those in this often neglected but fascinating part of the world.

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From School Library Journal:

Grade 9 Up—This autobiographical chronicle spans 30 years, beginning in 1971 with Maslov's days as a young student in Siberia. This bleak story of the Everyman is told in a style reminiscent of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich with its matter-of-fact descriptions of grim living conditions. Following school, Maslov is drafted into the army. His life as a soldier in Mongolia is retold with the same slow and methodical detachment used to describe tender scenes of his family life. After leaving the army, he takes up construction work and later enrolls in art school. Following the death of his brother, Maslov suffers a breakdown and is hospitalized after an alcoholic binge spurred on by depression. The events of his life are described in a plain manner, whether the author is depicting the marriage of a schoolmate or the death of a friend. His pencil drawings retain the feeling of sketches and are filled with gray shadows. At times, the people all look the same, underscoring a communal sensibility and the shared experience of life in isolated Siberia. Elsewhere, the faces take on an expressive detail that borders on the grotesque. Maslov dwells on the minutiae of his encounters with friends and acquaintances, and teens will be fascinated as his story slowly unfolds—Heidi Dolamore, San Mateo County Library, CA
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From Publishers Weekly:

The backstory of this graphic novel may be as compelling as the book itself. Maslov, a Muscovite night watchman, handed a visiting French editor some pages from what became this book. Impressed, the editor offered Maslov an advance, enabling the middle-aged artist to finish the book and, for the first time in his life, live as a working artist. This book is the story of Maslov's life. Drawn entirely in soft, impressionistic pencil, it follows his upbringing in Siberia in the 1950s through his army conscription and service in Mongolia, an utterly absurd riff on the tragicomic life of a Soviet soldier in the '70s. These scenes are so strange, so dazed, that they take on a hallucinatory glow. It also tracks his descent into alcoholism and despair, followed by his slow ascent out of that chasm. At times the drawing is stiff and naïve, and the translation is spotty, but Maslov's wry, cracked voice always shines through the formal problems. His is a voice from history, and his pencil drawings, which sometimes seem to shift as you look at them, drives that home. Even at his most horrifyingly real, Maslov is a friendly confidant, waving at the audience from what feels like a distant planet.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Maslov, Nikolaï
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