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English sample available

Film adaptation in progress

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels meets Gogol’s The Gamblers in Kirill Ryabov’s 777, a criminal burlesque from Russia’s young literary star.

Khlebnikov is a typical little man (in Gogol’s sense) – an ordinary resident of a small shabby town in the Russian Far East. There’s not much in his life to brag about or remember: the failed dream of becoming a singer, stern wife and unfriendly stepson, dull underpaid job as a cook in a burger joint, and a shadowy petty criminal incident in the past…

Khlebnikov once withdrew his meagre salary from an ATM but the cash machine delivered more than two million rubles. This is a fortune for him, an unforeseen chance to change his life. Khlebnikov rents a room in a fleabag motel on the outskirts of town so he can come up with a plan for escaping into a brighter new world. It’s no big surprise that his plans won’t work and Khlebnikov soon finds himself caught up in events that spin out of his control: a drinking bout, getting set up by an old friend, falling for a hooker, and threats from local gangsters and the bank’s security department. Now Khlebnikov isn’t pursuing the life of his dreams but simply trying to stay alive.

Ryabov turns a conventional heist crime comedy about the aftermath of a lucky gain into an absurd and even tragic story. A vivid cast of true-to-life characters draws compassionate readers into

a rollercoaster of events. Every character shakes off cliché to offer the depth and scope of an almost ancient hero. With his sharp tongue firmly in his cheek, Ryabov tells a crime story about the misadventures of a very ordinary man with a big fortune and transforming it thanks to keen observation of human nature that embraces compassion and greed, lust and lyricism, poetry, fears, and love.

There’s no false pathos in the novel, filled with life, credibility, real human dramas, and dry humor. Ryabov’s sharp eye in depicting the realities of provincial Russia together with bewildering WTF plot twists make 777 a true reading adventure.      

This realism, though, leaves plenty of room for surreal and dryly humorous perspectives.

— Publisher’s Weekly on Kirill Ryabov's Spit, in Rasskazy: New Fiction from a New Russia (2009) 

A funny and scary Guy Ritchie story with a smokey touch of Russian chthonic universe.

— from the publisher, Gorodets


I don’t remember when a literary work had such a genuinely heavy impact on me. I believe literature should hammer at the reader, and that’s exactly the case here.

— Dmitry Danilov, a poet and playwright 

Kirill Ryabov’s simple story has a mesmerizing effect. In the first place, it is due to a unique authorial style that’s conversational and laconic, with fine details reminiscent of poetry in prose. The real world in Ryabov’s novel seems to be a chaos inhabited by monsters and tricksters. Once you confront it, the only way to survive is to become a hero. Even if you are a ridiculous hero or an outspoken fool, you must struggle for better luck or simply for your mundane life.

— Gorky Media


Russian chthonic or chronic province, many dog-inspired metaphors, a big debt, issues with residency, hero as outsider, frightening debt collectors, unhappy and affectionate hookers, even an old man with a gun and God allusions are in place. Ryabov, much in the spirit of Martin McDonagh, continues to conceal humor behind despair and you don’t quite know if you feel amused or desperate, though 777 is at most fun.

— God Literatury

Ryabov balances between elaborate realism (he’s very true in describing a hangover, in particular) and fantasy that’s indistinguishable from truth; in a way they say that truth is stranger than fiction. The same may be applied to Ryabov, who indeed constantly elaborates on fiction and its edges, while also being the brightest glorifier as well as the annihilator of the spirit of the 1990s.

— Forpost

Book details


Novel, 2021

288 pp

Rights sold

  • Film rights sold

Literary awards

  • Nominated for the National Bestseller Award 2021

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