Viktor Yerofeyev's epic novel is a brilliant picaresque novel about the rise of Putin, who, as the Great Gopnik, embodies what should not be possible: a yob, a rowdy, a chav who not only makes it to the highest center of power, but keeps himself there. Only someone could have thought that up! But who? Someone who is considered talentless by his mother and whose father loses his post as a high-ranking diplomat because of the publication of a critical text, an author who will never be as radical as his sister O., who holds up a mirror to post-Soviet Russia with the help of pornography, and who nevertheless is kicked out of the writers' association more than once and today lives in exile in Germany. And so Yerofeyev tells the story of today's Russia from the perspective of the writer - who is free to move through time and space, to have characters appear and disappear, to invent things and to expose what he has experienced, heard and seen as a hoax. Yerofeyev ventures nothing less than a literary explanation for what is happening today: The Great Gopnik is a rapid and ironic, at times cynical, movement through time and space, in which Stalin, Putin and the writer's parents, his fellow writers and his wives find themselves at the same table, as if for dinner, to ask the one insoluble question: how could it have come to this?
Russian original available
Viktor Jerofejew (Viktor Yerofeyev), born in Moscow in 1947, became known worldwide for his novel The Moscow Beauty, published in 1989 and translated into 27 languages. In 1979 he was expelled from the USSR Writers' Union for his participation in the literary anthology Metropol, which featured texts by various authors that had been banned by the censors. He has lived in exile in Germany since 2022.
“A milestone of Russian literature” – Ijoma Mangold, ZEIT Literatur