Zakhar Prilepin talks about his new book
Russia Beyond the Headlines: Your “Vosmerka” is the most anticipated book in Russia this year. Why 8?
Zakhar Prilepin: Vosmerka is a collection of eight short stories. The title story is called Vosmerka for the eighth model of the Lada car and also the symbol of eternity. Partly that is an anti-Beamer [BMW] story. “Bumer” [Russian for Beamer] is a popular Russian film made by one of my good friends Pyotr Buslov, which explores a street gang traveling around Russia to buy BMWs. The idea is that this gloomy, freezing Russia can swallow anybody, including bandits; yet the movie managed to show the bandits as kind, sympathetic guys.
RBTH: Does your novel question director Buslov’s vision?
Z. P.: Not at all. I decided to show these characters from another angle. Simply because I faced different circumstances; I have dealt with some rough things in my life. In my past, gangsters arrived in their BMWs to confront my friends and I who drive Vosmerkas . As in most of my previous books, the main character will remind you of me.
RBTH: How is it that a film based on your new novel is already being shot before your book has been released?
Z. P.: Film director Alexei Uchitel attentively follows all books written by contemporary Russian authors. He read “Vosmerka” and immediately decided to put the story on the screen. Uchitel has a wonderful talent for finding the right actors. He had figured out each character so amazingly that when he showed me pictures of his actors, I exclaimed: “But this is Dima!” Uchitel has a rare director’s sensibility – he absolutely charmed me.