Very often incredibly talented people are modest and underappreciated. Three years ago I have read a novel that thrilled me to pieces, it was called Shame and Purity (Позор и Чистота). The author is Tatiana Moskvina, a media persona from St Peterburgh, she penned nearly twenty novels, non-fiction books and theatrical plays. She’s also a journalist and an actress, a film and theatre critic.
Shame and Purity is a satirical portrayal of modern Russia and it focuses on the fate of women in the Russian society. The main heriones – Egle is an intelligent folk singer, who happens to be lesbian, while Katarzhina is a hyper-assertive shameless man-hunting ‘gold-digger’. The two couldn’t be more different: Egle is Purity, while Katarzhina is Shame. It’s interesting how even Egle considers playing the game in order to become a big pop-star but is warned by Vremin (her angel-protector), a man desperately in love with her,
Don’t go downhill, my dear! You won’t find anything real there, selling yourself for fool’s gold and throwing it to the poor! if there is nobody to sing to – sing to nobody! Sing to yourself, to God, to the Sun! And people will find you. Maybe there won’t be many of them, but every one of them will come to YOU, the real you.
(it was my humble translation from Russian – “Не надо спускаться вниз, дорогая моя! Ничего ты не найдешь настоящего, разменявшись на медяки и кинув их черни! Если не для кого петь – пой для никого! Пой для себя, для Бога пой, для солнца пой. И люди отыщутся сами. Пусть их будет немного, зато каждый придет К ТЕБЕ, к настоящей тебе” excerpted from Shame and Purity, T. Moskvina)
Katarzhina has no such guardian, she despises all men, who, in her opinion, should pay both for love and lack-of-love. I couldn’t stop laughing at this character Moskvina drew with such relentless satire, but I’d be terrified to encounter such person in real life.
This novel tells volumes about the nature of Russian identity, it explores the difficult choice between honour and success. I hope translators will spot this and other books written by Moskvina. Hidden jewels are eventually unearthed.