The Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"Two hundred years after civilization ended in an event known as the Blast, Benedikt isn’t one to complain. He’s got a job—transcribing old books and presenting them as the words of the great new leader, Fyodor Kuzmich, Glorybe—and though he doesn’t enjoy the privileged status of a Murza, at least he’s not a serf or a half-human four-legged Degenerator harnessed to a troika. He has a house, too, with enough mice to cook up a tasty meal, and he’s happily free of mutations: no extra fingers, no gills, no cockscombs sprouting from his eyelids. And he’s managed—at least so far—to steer clear of the ever-vigilant Saniturions, who track down anyone who manifests the slightest sign of Freethinking, and
the legendary screeching Slynx that waits in the wilderness beyond."
This blurb had me hooked, but once I got into this odd novel, written by a descendent of Leo Tolstoy, I found the actual tale to be far better. It's a weird combination of Russian folk tale, social parody, and science fiction, The Master and Margarita meets Gamma World.
Tolstaya uses her distinct voice and lively imagination to create a laughable yet somehow believable post-apocalyptic world in which everyone covets books from the Oldentimes yet has no understanding of what they read.
The "hero", if one can call him that, has a reading addiction like no other, yet is as irnorant as the rest of the peasants. The lengths he will go in order to escape his dreary daily reality and prove himself above the flock are the heart of this novel, and offer a stern warning to anyone who thinks that reading simply for the sake of reading makes them special.
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