La Sed
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La Sed

3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  251 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Le soldat russe Constantin Chaparov, dit Kostia, revient de Tchéchénie. Son tank a été attaqué par des partisans. Son visage monstrueusement brûlé fait peur aux enfants. Kostia se met à boire, comme le lui apprend son directeur d'école professionnelle, un peintre raté. Un voyage avec deux de ses camarades soldats pour retrouver un quatrième tankiste va le sauver du néant é...more
Published December 31st 1999 by Tempora
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Kathleen McFall
Thirst is a fine book. It's a sharp and compassionate slice of Russian life and contemporary history told through the lens of a small group of well-drawn and deeply sympathetic characters - buddies from the horrific battlefields in Chechnya now meandering through the streets, alleys, train stations and watering holes of Moscow in search of an emotionally fallen comrade. Eschewing didactic moralizing or melodramatic description, the author builds his "hero's journey" narrative slowly - word upon...more
Jim
Thirst, like most words, doesn’t always mean dry-mouthed. Men with ‘a thirst on’ will drink long beyond the point of rehydration. This is clearly the goal of this novel’s protagonist as he fills his fridge with vodka and stacks the remaining bottles wherever he can find space. He's planning a bender. Why vodka? Because he’s Russian and that’s their thing. Change the sprit to whisky-without-the-e, alter a few geographical details, swap the Chechen War for the Iraq War and call our hero Jimmy inst...more
Jim
I had never heard of Andrei Gelasimov before undertaking his short novel Thirst, the story of a mutilated veteran of the war in Chechnya named Kostya who looks at his life, past and present, and tries to make some sense out of it.

Why did he join the military in the first place? He came from a broken family and could no longer deal with his stepfather. Thanks to a drunken school director, he develops a love of drawing. This becomes one of the ways he can communicate with others, especially child...more
Michael Seidlinger
For whenever our wounds are too much to bear, there's always the vodka, the alcohol, to help us through.
Amanda
One of Konstantin's army buddies has gone missing. Now that he is deformed after practically taking a grenade to the face in Chechnya, the former soldier keeps in touch with his army buddies, nearly drinking himself to oblivion every time he finishes a job. When one of their group goes missing, Konstantin helps to search for him, remembering school, his family, his father's selfishness in leaving his family, and encounters a second family -- his father's second wife and children.

This is a dark...more
Shannon
There were a lot of tough subjects in this book revolving around the horrors of war and it's aftermath. This was a quick read and I found that I didn't really connect with the story because it was so short and I gave this a lower rating simply because I think the story lost context in the translation to english. I had to re-read a few parts and try to determine what the actual english equivalent would have been.

I'm sure the story is much better in Russian. I picked this up because I like reading...more
L Fleisig
Kostya is a young Russian whose face was burned recognition while serving with the Russian army in its ongoing campaign against the Chechnya insurgents. As Andrei Gelasimov's "Thirst" opens, Kostya is back at home he sits in his apartment, sometimes for weeks at a time, drinking vodka. It seems the only time he leaves his apartment in when his downstairs neighbor asks him to come to her apartment to scare her young child into behaving, doing his homework or going to bed. Kostya's life is as void...more
Darryl
This short novel is narrated by a young Russian soldier during the War in Chechnya, who suffers horrible burns to his face and body when the Armed Personnel Carrier he is riding in is blown apart by a grenade. His comrades do not rescue him immediately, assuming he is dead, and then are horrified to see him breathing. After his rescue, he returns to his home village, where his most useful activity is scaring his neighbor's children into obedience. He spends his days in a vodka-fueled haze of mem...more
wally
first from gelasimov for me...sounds like a russian name? and does it matter? begins:

all the vodka wouldn't fit in the fridge. first i tried standing the bottles up, and then i laid them on their sides, one on top of the other. the bottles stacked up like transparent fish. then they hunkered down and stopped clinking. but ten or so just wouldn't fit.

i should have told me mother to take this refrigerator back a long time ago. it's an affront to me and the little boy next door. every night this mo
...more
Alain
Kostia a dix-huit ans lorsqu?il int?gre l?arm?e pour effectuer son service militaire auquel il n?a m?me pas essay? d??chapper. Peu de temps apr?s son arriv?e en Tch?tch?nie, son tank est attaqu? ? la grenade. Ils seront quatre rescap?s et Kostia est tr?s gri?vement br?l? au visage. De retour dans la vie civile, il retape des appartements pour gagner sa vie. Entre deux chantiers, il passe son temps ? boire de la vodka pour supporter le mouvement de recul des gens qui d?couvre son visage ravag? po...more
Tony
I enjoy literature from around the world, and I'm interested in post-Soviet Russia, but this sparse novella failed to engage me. It follows a severely scarred young man named Konstantin, who was in an APC that was blown up during the first Chechen War (circa 1994-96). He now lives a quasi-hermetic existence as a self-employed apartment renovator and sometime drunk. The story (which seems to take place sometime in the mid to late 1990s, since no one seems to have a cell phone or computer) follows...more
Hboyd
A concise but emotional story of vodka, scars, childhood and adulthood.

Konstantin is shaken out of his vodka-binge when his old army buddies show up to ask for his help looking for another comrade who has gone missing. The search takes Konstantin through Russia, and through his childhood memories, as he finally confronts his absent father, who is in a state of redemption.

A great discovery - I look forward to reading more of his books.
Bill
An engaging little story from post-Soviet Russia. I love works like this that give you a sense of time and place. Thirst introduces us to Kostoya - disfigured during the mid-90's Chechen war when his armored personnel carrier explodes and he is the last to be pulled out.
After the war Kostoya and his comrades in arms are adrift, affected by what happened, some coping better than other. Kostoya works occasionally as a builder, completing renovations for those who have benefited from the new econom...more
Ryan
I was disappointed by this book. I had first read Gelasimov in the Dalkey Archive's and was almost speechless after reading his story ("The Evil Eye", please read it if you haven't yet). So it may have been that I approached this work with such high expectations. However, there are some issues with the book. I found the pacing too quick, the prose a bit stilted, and overall a bit of a sophomoric effort.

I don't know for certain if the faults of can be attributed to the translation or if it is th...more
William
Fairly short - I read this on the plane back from Russia. Weaving past into present through deftly-constructed flashbacks, Thirst ranks among the best novels about war veterans (in this case, veterans of the First Chechen War) I've read. The prose is simultaneously hard and tender, and quite a bit goes on in the novel though Gelasimov does not seem to place a great deal of momentum behind his narrative. The result is a engrossing novel which displays what one other reviewer fittingly described a...more
Kevin
An interesting mostly because of the insight into a different world and culture - post-Soviet Russia and the veterans of the wars in Chechnya.

Having been burned and disfigured by a anti-tank mine in Chechnya, Kostya seems resigned to a life of drinking vodka and occasionally working on apartment rehab projects. But his army friends that survived that battle show up and include him in the search for another from the squad. This forces him to get out and see the world but it also brings him into c...more
Joy
This book kind of lost me from the description and what I actually read. I am going to reread it when I have more time to read more than a few paragraphs at one sitting and see if I can pay closer attention..
Will
Read the English translation for a Russian Translation course and compared it to the Russian original. I really like this book, it's simple and unpretentious, but with a vivid language and a great sense of empathy for Kostya, Konstantin, the main character, a veteran of the (presumably second) Chechen War, as he wanders around the Moscow region with a friend, running into his estranged dad and drinking his weight in vodka along the way. Well-translated by Marian Schwartz (duh) though there are s...more
Emma
This is written (and well translated) in a spare style that perfectly suits the subject matter, the main character who tells the story, and the environment in which he lives. The "thirst" is for vodka, vast quantities of which are consumed as the pages are turned. The protagonist is a veteran of the war in Chechnya, reunited with his former comrades in arms, with whom he shared a traumatic experience. I don't want to give the story away, but suffice it to say that although it may seem grim and t...more
Simon
Hmmm..... Thirst is a difficult novel to review. If I had a choice it would be closer to 2.5 stars. It's a short novel about a young solider who was disfigured during conflict in Chechnya and a brief period of time where he meets up with his old soldier friends after being a bit of a hermit.

At the end of Thirst I felt a little empty in that I barely got to know the protagonist and while the subject matter is very fertile ground, there is very little meat in the story. It's sparse like the protag...more
Ann
I enjoyed this quick read. It was like a conversation. Many social implications were highlighted in the conversation but nothing too heavy. The characters felt very real, normal but not typical. Russia seems very similar to the US in this story. I feel the writer has a special talent for telling a story about everyday life in a way that makes you want to keep reading along and beside the characters, yet never diving extremely deep into any character. Living in a time of war with soldiers returni...more
Joanna
I didn't quite get it. But I'm pretty sure I wasn't expected to.
Sho
This novel defies description. It is the story of Kostya who drinks a lot of vodka. He is an ex-soldier, a veteran of the war in Chechenya, and some of his comrades. Actually nothing really happens in the book although things from Kostya's past are explained in short flashbacks.

And that is all I can say about it. It's worth a read.
Trunatrschild
A short picture on the life of a veteran in the post Soviet Union. It is very Russian, they have a sort of bleak outlook on life. If you like foreign literature, this one will leave you wanting more... it is a short picture on a man settling with himself on what his life is going to be, shutting old doors and opening new. Very elegantly written/translated, my only complaint is that if I hadn't known what it was about from the Amazon blurb, I would have been a little lost, but that is probably th...more
Jim Elkins
Crudely structured, badly written, poorly imagined. Rum, unskilled, without nuance. Like the deliberately shocking scenes in "Deer Hunter" or "Born on the Fourth of July." Hard to imagine Gelasimov is considered a good writer.[return][return]Marek2010 (review below) is right that the book has a warm ending: but it's only one page. The rest is intended to be hard-bitten, tough, real, uncompromising, and it ends up being mawkish, sentimental, and scarred by clich�s.
Jason
In "Thirst," Gelasimov is a word economist, using rapid-fire short sentences. It makes for a quick and easy read, though at points I had to go back and read certain paragraphs or pages a couple times to make sure I knew who was relaying what words or thoughts.

It's basically a book of slow redemption, of Kostya finding himself again with the help of his friends and his estranged father. It's a good book, but it won't knock your socks off.
Mitsu
I found the main character interesting but found the quest to find their friend a bit pointless. I thought the ending was really sweet and I think you could probably get more from it each time you read it.
Katherine
This is a thin novel which describes the progress of a disfigured Russian soldier who had served in Chechnya. His story has many details of unpleasant events in the life of an alcoholic veteran with artistic talents. There is good depth to the personal histories and the evolution of relationships into a benign pattern of contentment. A satisfactory ending with his personal emotional insight.
Lance
Galasimov takes the unique abiliity of modern Russian literature to sketch vivid characters quickly and applies it to a shorter genre of novel. This book takes you into the pyschology of a Chechen war veteran and adeptly shows how traumatic experiences never stand alone, but are always entwined with the past. We make meaning of events in our life relationally.
Jeff
Left me thirsty. There's barely any time to figure out if this is going to be a compelling story and it's over. I don't feel myself connecting with the particular place and time of this book, nor with the narrator.

I have a pre-publication draft, maybe the book eventually got lengthened or made more interesting or something.
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