Moscow 2042 was by far the longest book I read for my recent Russo-Biblio-Extravaganza, and probably the funniest as well. A story about what happens when Kartsev, a 20th century expatriate Russian writer living in Germany, travels 60 years into the future, it's overlong sometimes, and repetitive sometimes too, but it's also a really memorable political satire about what the USSR might look like in the year 2042.
As it turns out, the future that Kartsev finds is an absurdity. I don't want to give away too much, because a lot of the novel's fun is seeing things through Kartsev's eyes. Right away, he's greeted like royalty and given a new name to reflect his literary status in the country: Classic. Later though, Voinovich reveals the real reason these latter-day Soviets are being so nice. It has to do with a writer named Karnavalov, a friend of Kartsev's back in the old days. Karnavalov is a parody of the Soviet dissident writer, a kind of clown version of Solzhenitsyn, who believes one day he and his writings will be revered. At first it seems to Kartsev that Karnavalov has been forgotten, but that turns out not to be the case.
The future that Voinovich has created doesn't resemble Moscow's actual future at all; it's an extreme communist society that owes something to just about every major dystopia from Zamyatin to Huxley to Orwell. The sense of humor, though, is distinctly Voinovich. No topic is too small or too personal to avoid his, and the government's scrutiny and it surprised me how quickly Kartsev internalizes the crazy logic of the place.. Voinovich throws in some little self-referential touches here and there but it's really Kartsev's wide-eyed wonder (and horror) that carries the book along.
|Read for Russo-Biblio-Extravaganza|
FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.