by Olga Slavnikova
Translated from the Russian by Marian Schwartz
Overlook Press, 2010; paperback ed. 2012
In a translation funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and executed to perfection by prize-winning translator Marian Schwartz, 2017 is part literary romance, part political thriller, and a stunning tale of adventure, fantasy and obsession.
Set in the near future, on the 100th anniversary of the Revolution, 2017 reveals a Russia devoid of art and innovation, but full of danger, scandal, and wildly intriguing characters. With its harsh climate, social and ecological problems, its impoverished underclass and criminal upper class, the mythical Riphean Mountains become the perfect setting for this stunningly crafted Russian favorite.
Raised in the city’s slums where violence and theft are necessities of survival, Krylov discovers at a young age that he has a gift for gem cutting. This talent allows him to attend a university, where the greedy Professor Anfilogov – a man who lives a double life as a teacher and a gem smuggler – recognizes his gift and takes him under his wing. As Anfilogov embarks upon a dangerous expedition to hunt a lost treasure of priceless rubies, Krylov also begins an adventure of his own while he awaits the Professor’s return. He meets a mysterious and beautiful stranger named Tanya to whom he is irresistibly drawn. Their scandalous affair soon becomes dangerously complex as Krylov’s ex-wife Tamara, the wealthy owner of an undertaker’s business, hires a spy to shadow their every rendezvous and reveal the secret to Tanya’s identity. Soon Krylov finds himself navigating through diamond mines deep in the Urals, the criminal conventions of the illegal gem trade and carnivalesque riots that mark the centennial of the October Revolution.
Praise for the Translation
"Slavnikova’s strange, genre-defying novel, winner of the 2006 Russian Booker Prize, finally made it into English in Marian Schwartz’s luminous translation. . . ." – Phoebe Taplin, Russia Beyond the Headlines
"This novel is full of scenes of hard physical labour; none is so impressive, nor leaves the reader with the same sense of exhausted admiration, as Schwartz’s act of translation. . . ." – Alex Preston, Literary Review
"Translator Marian Schwartz, one of the most accomplished Russian translators working today—who has translated the works of Nina Berberova, Edvard Radzinsky, and Mikhail Bulgakov, among others—has recreated Slavnikova’s dense novel in a smooth, eminently enjoyable English text. Passages describing the craft of obscure trades like gemcutting or rock-hounding flow from sentence to sentence with ease, making the translation seem effortless." -- Kyle Semmel, Three Percent
"This Russian Booker Prize-winning novel, translated by Marian Schwartz, sets out to deliberately disorient as reality and the ethereal, past and future, conscious and unconscious intersect, leaving the reader scrambling to find his bearings in Slavnikov’s dystopian premonition of Russia in the near future. It is an unsettling but satisfying experience." — Tony Bailie, New York Journal of Books
"Marian Schwartz’s translation is opulent and lucid, belying the countless linguistic knots she had to unravel in order to birth this dense Booker-winning novel into English. In short, a gem." -- Paul E. Richardson, Russian Life
"Thanks to a superb translation by Marian Shwartz, Olga Slavnikova's dystopian novel "2017", arguably the writer's most important work today is now available in English."-- Konstantin Boulich
"The linguistic salvoes and syntactical arabesques that Schwartz is forced to perform in order to render Slavnikova's densely lyrical prose in English are tortuous enough to cloud the sunniest disposition. This novel is full of scenes of hard physical labour; none is so impressive, nor leaves the reader with the same sense of exhausted admiration, as Schwartz's act of translation." -- Alex Preston, Literary Review