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“Blue Lard” Translated by Max Lawton Reviewed in NY Times
February 26, 2024

The reviewer of Max Lawton’s translation of Vladimir Sorokin’s novel Blue Lard calls the work “baffling, debauched and perfectly human” (Feb. 25, 2024).

When the Russian writer Vladimir Sorokin published his 1999 novel “Blue Lard,” a youth group loyal to the Kremlin threw mutilated copies of the book into a giant toilet erected outside Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater. They denounced the work as pornographic, especially outraged by a now-infamous sex scene between Nikita Khrushchev and Joseph Stalin.

But the toilet stunt — histrionic, scatological, tinged with absurdity — could have easily been a set piece in a novel by the very writer the group was protesting. Sorokin, global literature’s postmodern provocateur, is both a savage satirist and a consummate showman. “There’s a big difference between pornographers and writers,” he told the BBC, before the state brought criminal charges against him. “The pornographer aims to help the reader achieve an erection, but the writer’s task is to provide the reader with aesthetic pleasure.”



Read the Review