Grigory Ryzhakov – Russian Writer

Modern Russian Authors: Tatiana Tolstaya. Slynx and the Russian language

Tatiana Tolstaya (photo credit – Водник, Wikimedia Commons)


Tatiana Tolstaya is one of the most prominent media figures in the modern Russian society, she’s also a publicist and a writer of short stories and novellas, some of which could be found in English. Her TV program The School of Aspersion, which she co-hosts with a film director Audothia Smirnova, is based on interviews with famous artists, scientists, culture and media workers, and enjoys wide popularity amongst the ’intelligentsia‘.

She is a grand-daughter of the great Soviet author Alexei Nikolaevich Tolstoy, famous for his Peter I epic novel and the scifi novel Aelita (not to confuse with Lev Tolstoy who wrote War and Peace).

Tatiana Tolstaya is a top notch language master and stylist. Her writing is exquisite – if language was edible and tasty people would devour her books endlessly. Tolstaya’s only novel to date, Slynx, has received several literary awards. It’s a postapocalyptic dystopia exploring the relationship between the individual and the society. An important aspect of the book is focused on knowledge and education and their major enemy – political power.


The story is set in the future Russia, after the nuclear strike, all life and people are mutated, the culture is mostly lost, yet a man called Benedict is aching for knowledge. He’s afraid of Slynx, a imagianry creature that howles somewhere far away. Slynx is perhaps a metaphor of the darkness of human soul, of the irrational fear of the unknown. I believe this novel is an instant classic and will be studied in schools in no time if it’s not already a part of the curriculum.

Aside from her literary awesomeness, Tatiana Tolstaya is known for being an ardent advocate for proper use of the Russian language, both writing and speaking, she a self anointed No.1 Russian ‘Grammar Nazi’. Only joking. I dread to think what could’ve happened if I wrote this post in Russian (with as much slip ups as I make in English) and she read it. Boo!

Several years ago Tolstaya published a chapter of her new book, Archangel, in the Russian magazine, Snob. I really hope that Tatiana won’t be having forever busy TV schedule and the new novel will see the light of the day eventually.

I’d like to finish with a quote that belongs to this gifted, wise woman,

Art has nothing to do with politics. It is the freest thing in the world.


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