Translator: Jamey Gambrell
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pub. Date: 2006, 2012
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Day of the Oprichnik, by Vladimir Sorokin, is a slice-of-life dystopian about one oprichnik in Moscow in 2028. This society runs with futuristic technology and the draconian laws of Ivan the Terrible. The oprichnina, the most feared men in the country, perform all tasks necessary to promote and protect the czar’s interests. Andrei Danilovich Komiaga, the oprichnik of concern, must crush the enemies of the state, perform his assigned tasks, attend parties, and participate in secret rituals. This Russian dystopian novel looks at the corruption and control of a futuristic society from the top down.
As someone who likes reading books and watching shows of a graphic nature (e.g. Game of Thrones and Killing Stalking), I was disturbed by a few graphic scenes for Komiaga’s thoughts as he performed certain actions. It was entirely disturbing to me to read that gang raping a nobleman’s wife would “[give the oprichnina] more strength to overcome the enemies of the Russian state” (23), though this thought seems to belong to the members of the oprichnina instead of being a belief of the author. There is also ritual anal sex between certain members of the oprichnina. Sorokin does tell you upfront that some of the content is graphic and grotesque, but reading it still disturbed me.
On that note, I am not sure what the point of this book is because I saw no particular plot or character development. The book takes the reader through one day in the life of Komiaga. He has a busy life, which often focuses on corruption. But he doesn’t change, and nothing significant happens.
This book is probably best appreciated by someone who has a clearer understanding of modern-day Russia and its history than me. If you have that understanding, you might like this book better than I did.