A finished copy of Vladimir Sorokin’s novel Telluria arrived at Biblioklept World Headquarters yesterday. The novel, in translation by Max Lawton, has been my favorite read so far this year. It’s on sale in a few weeks from the good people at NYRB. I would normally share their copy from the back of the book, but I have something better. I’ve got an interview with translator Max Lawton forthcoming, and here’s his description of Telluria:
TELLURIA is “Oxen of the Sun” as sci-fi novel, without any notion of a language’s generation—without any notion of “progress.” It is fractal and rhizome, scattered out over 50 chapters, with the only hint of redemption coming in a narcotic vision of Christ. TELLURIA is about pushing one’s mastery of style to the point where it begins to break down—in the mode of late Miles. It is at these moments of breaking down that something new begins to come into being. On the level of content, TELLURIA suggests that the small is always more charming—more desirable—than the master narrative. Nationalism, he suggests, can only be cute if it’s a doll-sized state that’s doing the nationalizing. Anything bigger is monstrous. The book, then, is an ode to difference. And a challenge to land-grabbing, logos-hijacking imperialists who believe in a single story. For Sorokin, the world is a million different textures, a million different languages, and no ONE can be said to triumph.