Астенический синдром [The asthenic syndrome] (1989)

»I’m sentenced to this suffering«

Passive-aggressive well into mental disorder, this unflinchingly dreary and gloomy portrait of a disintegrating Soviet Union displays a society in sordid, dismal decay. Depressing though fascinating glimpses of a crumbling world, populated exclusively by quarrelsome and irritating characters, nagging incessantly without it leading anywhere. Everybody is unkind, unempathic, unfriendly – un-anything positive whatsoever.

Shattered, desperate, grief-stricken Natasha, reverting to an almost animal-like state, hurling insults at a cruel world. And Nikolai, an eternally sleepy, world-weary, desillusioned teacher. Two seemingly random stories plus an abundance of grotesque, weird details on the side. Soap bubbles, jolly babushkas, cat molesting, funerals, imprisoned dogs, asylum scenes…

Far too slow and incongruent, but original enough for my book.

»Like yolk in albumen«


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