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The Russian Heart Beats For All


English and Swedish samples available

This alarmingly prophetic anti-utopia and a bitter social satire from Konstantin Zarubin, a professor at Dalarna University in Sweden, reads unlike any other literary warning. Surgically acute, bold, and smart, the novel accentuates the most painful aspects in the social and political catastrophe, from which Russia and Europe suffer today.

In the alternative 2023 Russia is torn in parts by a civilian war. European countries try to cope with millions of refugees from the collapsed Russian state.

The protagonist of the first part of the novel is Andrey Menyaev, once a bestselling writer with two film adaptations and a leader of the state propaganda factory in Moscow. Today Menyaev is a refugee, seeking a residency permit in Scandinavia. Ironically, a leading figure of Moscow media beau monde, cynical and smart, today Menyaev fully depends on those he has always despised and mocked – good-hearted idealists. He is being introduced to an Icelandic lady, an activist of feministic movement and a liberal intellectual, and a member of a covert organization helping refugees with the immigration procedures. Will Harpa, his “beautiful Icelander”, as Menyaev calls her, succeed in defending their marriage in the eyes of the experienced migration officials?

The main character of the second part is Danya Svechin. A talented digital artist, he created deepfakes under Menyaev’s supervision in Moscow. To his luck, Svechin has got an Estonian citizenship, and after the revolt in Moscow he settles down in a low-key area in Estonia, far from the Russia refugee ghetto. It is there where alerting news reach Svechin: former fellow workers from the Moscow propaganda factory are reported dead, brutally murdered by a single terrorist or a terrorist group. Svechin receives protection from authorities in a new hide-away under a fake name. The only connection with his past is Nika, a childhood friend, a single mother who writes to him about their life in the refugee ghetto. Once Nika tells the artist about a group of illegal migrants fighting back a local gang that kept nagging the family with a handicapped kid, though they knew that might compromise their status in Estonia. The police detained the gangsters yet deported the Russians back to their home country. Nika’s story inspires Svechin to draw a comic book that becomes an international sensation. Svechin decides to finally meet Nika in person and falls victim to the mysterious terrorist avenger.

Mira Iskalieva from the last part of the novel is one of this group of deported refugees, a heroine from Svechin’s comic book. We follow her story after the deportation to Moscow, where she becomes a sex slave for local gunmen. Mira manages to escape. With a group of teenagers, she makes another desperate attempt to cross the border of Russia.

Darkly humorous and frighteningly true to life, Zarubin’s novel is more than a social satire or a warning. Zarubin smartly manipulates his readers in translating the novel’s events to the up-to-date news in politics and social life. Zarubin shocks with his prophetic insights and his bright and broad picture of Russian-European relations.

Book details

Meduza, 2024


190 pp

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