32-5537                                                                                94-60909 Orig


Latynin, Leonid. Sleeper at harvest time, tr. by Andrew Bromfield. Zephyr, MA, 1995 (c 1994). 184 p  ISBN  0-939010-36-4, $21.00; ISBN 0-939010-37-2 pbk, $11.00


          Based on pagan rituals, folklore, and mythology, this book is not so much a novel as it is a chronicle of one thousand years of Russian history extending into the 21st century. Its principal hero is Emelya, the “sleeper” who observes and surrealistically dreams his way through the cataclysmic “harvest” of Russian history. Fire and particularly blood are the salient themes, marking the human sacrifice that has been the cruel destiny of the Russian people. For example: “The larger the [Russian] empire grew, the more blood  was spilled… Under Ivan the Terrible or Peter the Great the blood had no time to dry… but of course, most heart’s blood was spilled on this red stone by the axe of the holy tsar Josef [Stalin] the Bloody. His record is beyond count, and no one has ever approached it.” Perhaps the most symbolic metaphor is “There is a dog that roams across history clutching a bone in its teeth, and this dog is the word, and this bone is the remains of people, cities and nations.” Numerous lists of nationalities, regions, colors, animals, towers, streets, and churches permeate the book. The author evinces a rich lore of Russian religious history. Since the book is the first part of a trilogy, readers must await the author’s ultimate vision of the Russian idea. – V.D. Barooshian, Wells College


1600                                 CHOICE                                               June 1995