The Moscow Times, September 8-14, 2006


Pavel Vadimov's novel "Lupetta" began as a series of postings in the author's blog on


By Victor Sonkin

Published: September 8, 2006



Several years ago, it seemed there was a deep chasm between professional authors and Internet graphomaniacs. "Proper" writers predicted the degeneration of online culture and boasted of never reading anything on the web, while bloggers claimed that the days of traditional book culture were numbered. Both sides, however, turned out to be wrong, and today the borders between them are blurring. Linor Goralik, one of the most interesting writers of the younger generation, began as a typical Internet starlet, while Stalik Khankishiyev's cookbook on "macho" cuisine -- essentially a collection of recipes from his blog -- was a big hit on the nonfiction market. True, his recent autograph signing at a Moscow bookstore was announced over the PA system with the bizarre words "Stalik came to us from the Internet," as if they were introducing an alien from outer space. But the trend is here nonetheless.



And now there is Pavel Vadimov's novel "Lupetta," which began as a series of postings in the author's blog on After critic Dmitry Bavilsky singled him out and urged him to rework the text for publication, Vadimov turned his postings into a novel, which was published earlier this year by Ripol Classic.


"Lupetta" is difficult reading. On second thought, actually, it's not -- for unlike many modern writers, Vadimov can tell a story. Although his style can slip into cliche, it's marked by two unusual features. First, he doesn't make his text more gnomic so as to sound more profound. Second, the narrator, obviously an intellectually capable person, doesn't flaunt his intellect just for its own sake.


Perhaps that's because he has more urgent things on his mind. The novel is artlessly divided into alternating chapters that recount the narrator's troubled love affair with the surprisingly smart 19-year-old Lupetta (Italian for female wolf cub) and his battle with Lymphoma (personified with a capital L) in a cancer ward.


It is the Lymphoma chapters that make this book so difficult to read. Drawing on personal experience, the author describes the gruesome details of his fellow patients' cases and does not omit a single horrifying procedure he had to undergo. Hypochondriacs should definitely avoid this book, especially since Vadimov exploits this foible and at one point suggests that the reader check his or her lymph nodes. I found all these arcane details fascinating, but this may not be everyone's cup of tea.


In short, "Lupetta" is one of the most readable Russian books in recent memory, and the author managed to write about the ultimate things, love and death, without being trivial or pretentious.


The Moscow Times, September 8-14, 2006


Link to the synopsis, author biography & praise for the novel


Read excerpts from the novel in English, as translated by Mary C. Gannon 


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