Grigory Ryzhakov – Russian Writer

Surviving on the Edge: A Tale of Resilience

Red Primer for Children and Diplomats by Victor Vashi, 1967

Imagine a boy growing up in a totalitarian state where sexism, chauvinism, homophobia and general disrespect to human life and personal freedom were a norm. Imagine this boy growing up as a coward and a liar because he feared to tell others, even with his own parents and siblings, the only thing about himself he knew for sure: he was a girl on the inside.

This was happening back in the Soviet Union, but it may still be the reality for many people living under oppressive regimes.

Agie, the main heroine of my debut story Usher Syndrome grew up this way. Before emigrating to the West in her early twenties and having undergone a sex-reassignment surgery, she was discontent with her male body and her boy’s name Andrey (Aνδρος meaning ‘male’ in Greek).

Sexual education in the Soviet Russia was scarce, so Agie decided to become a biologist to learn more about her gender identity. During the student years her secret became known outside her close friends’ circle. She’d had enough suffering from badmouthed people: eventually her cup was full yet (a paradox) she dried out emotionally, becoming insensitive to insults.

She put all the effort into her career and, as a consequence of the ‘10000 hours’ rule and the handy collapse of the Soviet Union, Agie could take an offer of a prestigious job in academia abroad. She’d left the Motherland and never looked back.

Life in the new country required adaptation. It didn’t bring more friends as Agie shielded herself from any human contact outside work in self-defence, which had its toll. She was perceived as cold and arrogant. Solitude filled up her life to the brink, but she adapted to this isolation. Life became work, work became life, until one day, Agie had met Ben. That’s how the Usher Syndrome story begins.

What made me write about a character like this?

I’ve always been interested in people who, voluntarily or not, find themselves at the edge of society. They don’t belong. Sometimes I recognise these people when I meet them, – I notice odd depth in their eyes brought in by suffering and long contemplations about their place in the world.

So I write to make a difference. So such people could be understood and accepted for who they are and not forced to pretend to be “normal”. I write to ridicule prejudice and bullies and to celebrate individuality and the good nature of people. Humanism may not be much in fashion anymore, but that’s what fiction is all about for me.

Live and let live.

P.S. Agie asked me to continue with her story, to show how she enters a new life and copes with a bigger challenge.  So I did it. The new novella Pumpkin Day is now out on Kindle. It is merry and crazy and it’s another love story.

Also you may check out my books on Smashwords, you can download them there in every format for every electronic device. Sometimes, I run free promos too.

The links: Usher Syndrome and Pumpkin Day.


Your brilliant thoughts


  • Ashen

    You make a difference. Best success.

    • GrigoryRyzhakov

       thank you , Ashen. I really hope so 🙂

  • Larisa Biyuts

    sexism, chauvinism, homophobia and general disrespect to human life and
    personal freedom were a norm” don’t you think that it sounds much like words
    about the Victorian era or the backwoods of the USA? An oppressive regime can
    exist nowadays, when our totalitarian state is no more, inside a community or sect,
    or region of the “new” Russia. Just some thoughts. As for your book Usher Syndrome, I am glad that
    the story is not totally about you, and I thank you for touching the theme of
    individuality and maybe individualism and for understanding the people who are
    somewhat queer which your theme is so dear to me personally, since I realize how
    alien I am to much in society which I can see around me, even now, when the cursed
    1990s have passed, here in Russia, and I can create freely, but only in my books
    and on the Net I can live the life of my choice. Thank you.

    • GrigoryRyzhakov

       Larisa,  I agree with what you say. I think it is till a big problem for Russia, personal freedom and individuality are not respected unless you’ve got a lot of money or power or both.
      In tems of living in your books, it’s so true, at least you’re in control of your own creative universe 🙂