Siberian Education: Growing Up in a Criminal Underworld
In a contested, lawless region between Moldova and Ukraine known as Transnistria, a tightly knit group of "honest criminals"—exiled there by Stalin-live according to strict codes of ritualized respect and fierce loyalty. Here, tattoos tell the story of a man's life, "honest"...more
The Siberians here don't even live in Siberia, ...more
This certainly is an extraordinary story, soaked in gore in a Painted Bird sort of way. Nicolai Lilin claims he has murdered multiple people, and so has almost everyone he grew up with, including one guy who killed thousands of policemen and kept their badges. While he was in juvenile prison he witnessed numerous gang rapes, some of which were made into child pornography films, and there were several more murders. The soc ...more
This is a no holds barred account of growing up in a community where violence is a way of life and it was chilling, disturbing and enlightening all at the same time. I was fascinated by the dichotomy of their culture with t ...more
This memoir is based on the author's own experiences. Names have been changed, characters combined and events compressed. Certain episodes are imaginative recreation, and those episodes are not intended to portray actual events.
The first part of that disclaimer is fairly standard, the second part is not and it can't help but color your judgement of this ludicrously violent tale of honor of among thieves. I kind of wonder if this disclai ...more
It is a country that broke off the Moldavia to the west and has on its east is the Ukraine. Here this country ...more
The story itself is very loose and hardly makes out a narrative line across the entire book, but what I liked most is the melancholy which you feel in author's voice when remembering the past days of childhood and teen ages which will never return, both because that age is now past behind him and also because the world in which he has been raised has b ...more
Nikolaj grew up in Bender, Moldova, during the last years of the USSR and the first years after its collapse. That city featured several quarters run by criminal communities, the author's own being one consisting of Siberian expatriates, transplanted by Stalin all the way across the USSR for reasons unknown.
Apparently, there are essentially two things that define a Siberian criminal community: their strong sense of community spirit and tradition ...more
I have the same problem with this book as some other people did, namely the fact that it says some of the events are imaginary. I'm okay with not being able to remember every single detail and conversation because that's impossible, so long as the author tries to be as close to reality as possible.
But my problem is I have no idea what's true or what's not. I expected, not unreasonably, a hard hitting non-fiction memoir, like it's supposed to be. I can't say what the author actually went t ...more
Though possible, in principle, the author's blanket use of the adverb 'Siberian' smells of deliberate and increasingly annoying hyperbole. 'Siberian' criminals, 'Siberian' families, 'Siberian' custom etc. Fa ...more
Overall, I'm not so bothered about its relative veracity as I am by its narrative flaws. There are many. It reads like a collection of reminiscences gathered into a stack of notes and handed over to you in a greasy bundle. The story wanders here and there for most of the book, then latches on one long, violent almost cinematic adventure (which however is also fu ...more
I loved it. I didn't even know it was an excerpt, I thought it was a short memoir-piece. I remember thinking, "I wish there was a lot more of that to read."
Then this summer, I was browsing in my favorite book-store and looked down to see the novel, which I recognized because of the author's name. I bought it immediately, although didn't really get around to reading it for a while.
I star ...more
So, when I was young I had to walk to school barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways. And I caught a fish this big. That's the feeling I get from this story. It's not a bad feeling. I enjoyed the book. It reminded me of an old man telling tales of how it used to be to his grandkids, while they sit snug next to a fire (of course they would be warped forever, for his tales are a lot more worrisome than most). I don't feel like the exaggeration was intenti ...more
In 2004 he moved to Italy. In 2009 he published in Italy for Einaudi "Siberian education", his first novel, written directly in Italian. The book has been translated into 19 languages and distributed in 24 countries, and ha ...more