Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Ice Trilogy - Vladimir Sorokin (tr Jamey Gambrell)

It is unusual for me to give up on a book. It has to be very badly written or exceedingly dull. This was both. I know it is not the translation as Gambrell has proven her ability to move a work from one language to another with a great deal of skill and sensitivity to the original. But there’s not much you can do when the original is as bad as this.

All of which has left me wondering. Sorokin is, apparently, highly regarded. He has won literary prizes. Surely it is my judgement that is in error. Or not. Literary prizes, in my opinion, often go to undeserving but safe work. In Sorokin’s case, it has probably gone to someone who put their head a little way above the parapet and got lots of attention for it. It certainly hasn’t gone to them (on this evidence) for their ability to write.

I got part way through the the first book, Bro. It is plodding, dull, almost adolescent in its repetitiveness and peppering of the text with randomly italicised and capitalised WORDS, and by half way I had given up caring about the characters or their story. The potential was there for a story that could have turned the entire history of the Soviet Union inside out, but Sorokin has given no thought to structure or style (or if he did, he made the wrong choice) and ruined his opportunity in a story so dull I literally fell asleep part way through a chapter.

One for the charity shop.