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Oblivion

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3.77  ·  Rating details ·  150 ratings  ·  34 reviews
In one of the first twenty-first century Russian novels to probe the legacy of the Soviet prison camp system, a young man travels to the vast wastelands of the Far North to uncover the truth about a shadowy neighbor who saved his life, and whom he knows only as Grandfather II. What he finds, among the forgotten mines and decrepit barracks of former gulags, is a world releg ...more
Paperback, 300 pages
Published January 12th 2016 by New Vessel Press (first published 2010)
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3.77  · 
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 ·  150 ratings  ·  34 reviews


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Mary
I felt obliviated and terrified by the visceral imagery in this examination of the USSR’s murderous past. The allegory and the reality smacked me across the face and instilled that terror I feel when I think about why we are here on earth, God, the absence of God, the horror of humanity, my insignificance, outer space and looming death/immortality. Prose poetry, stumbling through fog and allusion and literal death. The penultimate scene is a doozy. Nightmares tonight for sure.

In an article by Le
...more
Alexandra Popoff
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In "One Hundred Years of Solitude" Gabriel Márquez tells how in Macondo three thousand workers are machine-gunned at the behest of a ruthless banana company. Their corpses are thrown into the sea and relatives are told that there haven’t been any dead bodies: “You must have been dreaming… Nothing has happened in Macondo, nothing has ever happened…This is a happy town.”
Residents accept the official account and dismiss the testimony of the only survivor. But subsequently the town sinks into ruin.
...more
Thomas
Dec 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature, giveaways
I want to thank the publisher and the Goodreads Giveaway program for sending me this book in return for an honest review. I give this book 3.5 stars(rounded up to 4) out of 5.

This was a book overwhelmed with imagery. Much of the book takes place in dream sequences or in the narrator's mind. The premise of the book is the narrator trying to find out more about the man he knew as "Grandfather II." This man was not his actual grandfather, but did watch over him as he grew up. "Grandfather II" dies
...more
Między sklejonymi kartkami
"O szarym postkomunistycznym świecie nie pisze się w ten sposób. W ogóle rzadko pisze się tak o świecie. Tak liryczny sposób pisania charakteryzuje utwory skierowane do wewnątrz – tak, znów wspomnę Virginię Woolf – tymczasem Lebiediew używa go do rozliczenia się ze straszną spuścizną totalitarnego systemu. Pomaga mu (cóż to za małe słowo!) niezwykły talent do wychwytywania i opisywania detali. Dzięki udaje mu się opisać postsowiecką Syberię bez nadmiernej estetyzacji, ale i bez epatowania brzydo ...more
Paul Fulcher
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sergei Lebedev's Oblivion was shortlisted for the 2017 Best Translated Book Award and from comments on the Mookse and Gripes forum (https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...) perhaps the best received among readers.

I started to read this on a flight from London to Korea - an 11 hour flight, a large part of which is spent flying over the vast area of Siberia, home of the gulags and labour camps in Soviet Russia.
(see http://i1376.photobucket.com/albums/a...)

Lebedev's moving debut novel tackles th
...more
Vadim Ryzhkov
Dec 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Как можно быть уверенным в качестве читаемых тобой книг? Просто читать классику. Если о книге не перестали говорить спустя 50 лет после публикации, значит, ее значимость выходит за пределы одного поколения, и, скорее всего, ты не прогадаешь, взявшись за чтение. Чтение современной литературы - как игра в рулетку, один шанс из тридцати, что зацепит. Современных книг уровня "Предела забвения" я не читал уже несколько лет. Тема книги - избытие лагерного наследия в коллективном бессознательном соврем ...more
Kelly
Jul 17, 2016 rated it liked it
It's probably just me, but while I think the subject matter is incredible, the constant bombardment of metaphors and similes really kept me from enjoying this novel. it made it hard to mentally catch my breath while moving from one image to the next with little room between. Couldn't even finish it.
Joseph Carano
Dec 23, 2015 rated it liked it
I liked and did not like this novel at the same time,thus the mixed review. On one hand,it was an interesting story and mystery of a man searching the truth about a person from his past. On the other hand ,the prose was overly drawn out and hard to read. In short,a little too artsy for my taste.
Emma
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
VERDICT: Powerful, intense, and poetic evocation of Soviet prison camps. Reading like a detective story, it will haunt the reader and help him escape oblivion. Unforgettable.


my full review is here:
http://wordsandpeace.com/2016/03/07/b...
Kinga
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Lots of layers and tangents. Almost too poetic in places, but the descent into past is documented beautifully. I'm fascinated with gulags and the collective amnesia which has struck Russians over this part of their history.
jeremy
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, translation
sergei lebedev's oblivion (predel zabvenya) is his first novel (and the first of his books to be translated into english, with the year of the comet to follow this year). with exquisite prose and ample metaphor, lebedev confronts the legacy of russia's often dark past, melding a poetic style and an emotional abundance. though not a coming-of-age tale in an traditional sense, oblivion follows its young narrator from youth to adulthood, as he tries to make sense of all that's come before – both pe ...more
Bryan
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The imagery in this book was almost overwhelming at points it was written so well. Every sentence was a new scene painted on a fresh canvas that were interwoven into a magnificent collage. The story also is important unto itself for the preservation of a culture and history in a nation that has its secrets. Not a book you find yourself tearing through because you get caught up in the visuals, but rather one you sit back and enjoy for its excellent prose and almost involuntary contemplation.
BookBrowse
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Lebedev’s rich and searing story explores how the oppressive weight of history, especially one that is not acknowledged, can smother the life out of an individual." - Poornima Apte, BookBrowse.com. Full review at: https://www.bookbrowse.com/reviews/in...
Shelley
Jun 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Beautiful writing and translation, but the poetic level made the ending long winded and a little confusing.
Guillermina Olmedo
Mar 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
beautiful, profound... while harsh, it is like an apple tree growing in the tundra.
Greg
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lebedev begins OBLIVION with a young narrator who seems to be enjoying an idyllic childhood in a wealthy suburban Russian setting. One quickly learns, however, that this is a deceptive metaphor for the political amnesia that is prevalent in Russia. Using a clever plot structure, Lebedev forces the reader to gaze instead upon the unspeakable horrors of Stalinism. The crimes of the Soviet gulags have been willfully expunged by the State from the people’s consciousness. "All the executions, all the ...more
Mark Lisac
Nov 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
History told as nightmare. Has a little passing similarity to Heart of Darkness, but Conrad's Marlowe could remain detached from the foreigners he observed while Lebedev's anonymous narrator can never really escape what he discovers.
Finished this book as conflicted about it, and for the same reasons, as many of the earlier reviewers.
A young Russian undertakes a personal journey, literally and into the past. The journey becomes an archeological study of: Soviet prison camps in the remote north; t
...more
Richard Thompson
I wanted to like this book. I was drawn to the idea of a novel written from the perspective of a modern Russian confronting the horror of Stalin's Gulag. It is a story about the banality of evil and the horrible, rotting decay left in the wake of the Soviet system, all springing forth from the narrator's personal childhood experiences with a scary paternal neighbor who was an influential presence in his early life. I thought that there was a lot of potential here. Unfortunately, Lebedev isn't mu ...more
Pascal Hannerz
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
An extraordinary debut novel by a writer who surely will be worth to watch out for in the future. This is a hellishly bleak book about the gruesome Soviet prison camp system, but at the same time written with a most powerful lyrical beauty; much of the imagery is extremely powerful and haunting. Many of the harrowing parts that OBLIVION contains will last with me for a long time.

Read this, everybody. Lebedev is by far one of the most interesting European authors to emerge in the 2010s.
Maria Calabrese
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un libro che porta al gelo sia per i luoghi che esplora sia per le emozioni che suscita. Un uomo che va alla ricerca di un passato lontano, non suo, ma che lo attraversa a causa di un legame affettivo. Le ultime 50 pagine si leggono tutte d'un fiato per la voglia di vedere come va a finire. Un consiglio: bisogna rileggere il primo capitolo dopo aver finito il libro.
Derek
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
DNF.
I somehow made it to the halfway point, but I could see little reason to push further. I get that this book is supposed to be allegorical, but this book was mostly a trudge for me. There were a few good parts, but they were too few and far between.
Bill
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
You have to take the crosstown bus and transfer twice to get to the point of this book. Much better is Gulag, by Anne Applebaum
Jon
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Did not finish. Violated my 100 page rule. The stream of consciousness writing style was not my favorite either.
Melissa
I received an ARC from New Vessel Press through Edelweiss.


Oblivion I have been captivated by the plethora of post-Soviet literature that has been published just in the last year alone. The theme that is the most haunting to me is the one of waste: all of those wasted lives, all of that wasted time, and for what purpose? I remember the attitude towards the Soviets in the 1980’s with the “us”, the free American democracy, versus “them”, the oppressive Soviet totalitarian regime, propaganda. It see
...more
Chris
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In what begins in powerful, visceral imagery, I was toward the end completely lost in the dark soil so fervently and obsessively described. Incredibly dense writing on how past actions are never erased by time, but rather stain the world irrevocably. Reading this book was like trudging through a bog in thick darkness; the only thing I remember is the exertion and the stains I carried out of it. Would not recommend this to many, if anyone at all.
Jerry Pogan
Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Another great Russian writer! This is the story of a small boy befriended by an old man he called Grandfather II and his search as an adult of the mans mysterious past. The real power of the book is not the story, though, but of the writing. The poetry used to describe the people, scenery and actions is incredible.
Lara
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
I could never get into it. Too dull and ponderous to finish.
Stephen Selbst
Mar 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Dense and allusive, with much of the narrative occurring in dreams, Oblivion takes some time to penetrate. But it's well worth the effort. A deeply felt book about the corrosive residue of the Soviet Union and its terrible gulag system. Powerful imagery meshes with meticulous observation of the former camps, the destruction of the land, and the damage done to the people. While more narrow in its focus, Oblivion calls The Gulag Archipelago to mind, and the comparison is not unfair. A disturbing a ...more
World Literature Today
This book was featured in the Nota Benes section of the Sept/Oct 2016 issue of World Literature Today Magazine.

http://www.worldliteraturetoday.org/2...
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Sergei Lebedev was born in Moscow and worked for seven years on geological expeditions in northern Russia and Central Asia. Lebedev is a poet, essayist and journalist. Oblivion, his first novel, has been translated into many languages and was named one of the ten best novels of 2016 by The Wall Street Journal. Lebedev’s second novel, Year of the Comet, has also received considerable acclaim.
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“I sensed that one of the most significant events of my life had taken place: that which tells us about ourselves exists in fragments, scattered in time and space... I sensed that my life was being refracted in the present moment like a beam in a magnifying glass, refracted and reset by this lens of understanding; I learned what I had come for, and that knowledge, it turns out, had always been with me, in my memory.” 1 likes
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