The Dream Life of Sukhanov

The Dream Life of Sukhanov A brilliantly crafted novel about one man s betrayal of his talent his friends and his principles a work of demon energy startling imagery and utter originality At fifty six Anatoly Sukhanov has

  • Title: The Dream Life of Sukhanov
  • Author: Olga Grushin
  • ISBN: 9780399152986
  • Page: 401
  • Format: Hardcover
  • A brilliantly crafted novel about one man s betrayal of his talent, his friends, and his principles a work of demon energy, startling imagery, and utter originality At fifty six, Anatoly Sukhanov has everything a man could want Nearly twenty five years ago, he traded his precarious existence as a brilliant underground artist for the perks and comforts of a high rankingA brilliantly crafted novel about one man s betrayal of his talent, his friends, and his principles a work of demon energy, startling imagery, and utter originality At fifty six, Anatoly Sukhanov has everything a man could want Nearly twenty five years ago, he traded his precarious existence as a brilliant underground artist for the perks and comforts of a high ranking Soviet apparatchik Once he created art now he censors it His past is a shadow, repressed to the point of nonexistence But a series of increasingly bizarre events transforms his perfect world into a nightmare Buried dreams return to haunt him, his life begins to unravel, new political alignments in the Kremlin threaten to undo him, and little by little, he finds himself losing everything he sold his soul to gain Told in dream sequences that may be true, in real time that may be nightmares, in shifting time frames and voices, Olga Grushin s novel is a highly sophisticated, often surreal exploration of self dissolution, faithlessness, and transformation.

    542 Comment

    • Mary says:

      This paranoid, dark, twisted, funny and moving novel enthralled me. Once I got used to it, I loved Grushin’s writing. She has a style that’s hard to describe; descriptive, blunt, and lush. I was hooked pretty quickly by this strange tale and found myself impatient to get back to it whenever I had to put it down. The world of Sukhanov was highly addictive. You never really knew what was going to happen next as this Soviet official wandered around 1980s Moscow in a fog, dipping in and out of r [...]

    • Manny says:

      Emanuel Lavrentievich closed the book and returned to his review. There was an odd sensation in his eyes and the back of his throat, and a number of thoughts, all of which he knew he would be well advised not to dwell on, were doing their best to gain his attention. He moved his gaze over the words he had already written, but they refused to cohere into sentences. And some of them surely had nothing to do with it? He deleted "Chekhov", "ineluctably" and "icon", pondered a while, and then put bac [...]

    • notgettingenough says:

      Much later after finishing this wonderful book.I did talk a few people into reading this. The first, Margaret, who has read many, many books over the decades immediately declared that she could call it the best book she's ever read too. Phew. I was afraid I was not overselling it, but creating a situation where expectation could not equal experience. The review is here, unchanged since I first put it on GR:alittleteaalittlechat.wordpre

    • Donna says:

      He has a realization—Something was happening to him—something strange, something, in fact, extremely unsettling—something that he was unable to explain, much less stop or control. He was being assailed by his past.Anatoly Sukhanov is a man with a past he has edited, a past that now haunts him as those edited parts suddenly make themselves known in both his dreams and his waking hours. Just what is it that Sukhanov has suppressed all these years and that at the age of 56 now has him inhabit [...]

    • Victor says:

      The Dream Life of Sukhanov follows Soviet apparatchik Anatoly Sukhanov as his carefully constructed life unravels before the readers’ eyes. Through the numerous flashbacks we see the protagonist as a child, growing in the shadows of Stalin’s terror and WWII, then an aspiring artist and wanna-be revolutionary, and then a complacent bureaucrat and a sell-out. You can see a big slice of Russia’s turbulent history through the prism of a singular life, but the book’s main focus is on Sukhanov [...]

    • Alta says:

      The Dream Life of Sukhanov (2005, 2007) by Olga GrushinI don’t know about you, but as I grow older, I rarely read a book with the total abandonment I used to experience as a child or a teenager. Olga Grushin, a young(ish) American writer who emigrated from Russia at eighteen, must have some special powers in order to cast this spell with both her novels, The Line and The Dream Life of Sukhanov. The first thing that separates Grushin’s novels from those written by her American contemporaries [...]

    • Cat Wild Night In says:

      I don't know about you, but normally I run to a novel to hide from the world and get transported as quickly as possible to a far-away place. At first, (until chapter 6) I found it hard to sink into this story, not because of a dislike of it, but because of the richness of the language. The beauty of the descriptions made me stop to luxuriate in them, for example, "e sun shot out through the glass in a fiery orange zigzag, and out into the street spilled the zesty smell of roast chicken and the h [...]

    • Dawn says:

      'Haunting', 'Stunning' & 'Heartbreaking' claims the cover. The blurb is something I always take with a pinch of salt - but on this occasion, for me, the book was all those things.I think it would strike a chord with many, as most people have to compromise and sell out to some degree in order to have comfort and security for themselves or their family - often losing who they are in this life process. Thankfully, these days not many are in the extreme situation that Sukhanov (and others) faced [...]

    • Bonnie says:

      Wow! Best novel I've read in quite some time, and it's a first novel. Echoes of Tolstoy, Nabokov, and Bulgakov. English is Grushin's 3rd language, but you wouldn't know it. Story of a 55-year-old man in 1985 Soviet Russia, having a nervous breakdown as his work and family life fall apart and as Soviet Russia is on the brink of falling apart. As a young man, Sukhanov showed promise as a Russian surrealist in the tradition of Dali and Chagall, but in fear for his life and career, he suppresses his [...]

    • Stacia says:

      At first, the long, flowery sentences overfilled with adjectives put me off the story a little bit. But for just a few pages because, somehow, the story, the writing morphed and these became beautiful, startling descriptions. Melancholy. Surrealism. Art. Life. Youth. Aging. Truly, this book is sublime. It's like a breathtaking painting put into words. Grushin has an incredible talent for merging the real with the unreal, a current life and a dream. You smoothly drift from reality to dream and ba [...]

    • Lorenzo Berardi says:

      On The Vicissitudes of the Dream Life of Sukhanov.In the beginning it was fireI've rescued this book from a mouldy crate (which once contained Portuguese tangerines) left on the floor of a firemen station in a provincial English town on a placid Saturday afternoon of early May.The first novel by Olga Grushin was lying on her meek ivory back crushed beneath a pile of heavy-weighted low-browed gaudy rubbish labeled Sophie Kinsella, Danielle Steel and E.L. James. (BBC Oxford set the mood broadcasti [...]

    • Manray9 says:

      Olga Grushin's The Dream Life of Sukhanov is a peculiar novel. As I read my opinion fluctuated. It was captivating, then it was tedious. Captivating again and then tedious. It has been compared to the works of Gogol and Bulgakov, but the drifting characters and the impressionistic flavor left me with the distinctive feel of Chekhov -- laced with just a touch of insanity. The references to Chekhov's plays reinforced my perspective. It was very “Russian.” Grushin traces Sukhanov's life and the [...]

    • Kseniya Melnik says:

      Can I just say: WOW. And not just because Grushin is a Russian lady writing in beautiful, crisp, evocative English, that's grand and all, but what an approach to a classic subject matter! She addresses the things we (aspiring writers, artists and such) think about constantly, mumble to ourselves and talk to others, passionately when drunk: what is talent? can it be confused with youth and energy? does an artist have a duty to fulfill himself, and at what expense to his family and friends? is to [...]

    • Anna says:

      The best book I have read in a really long time. I'm partial to it, of course, because the novel floats through the world of artists in Soviet Russia. (How could I not love a book like that?) The book really shines, though, because Grushin's prose has that special something that makes the story absolutely haunting and unpredictable. At any moment you feel like her characters could find redemption, come across a ghost, walk away from life as they knew it, or throw themselves off a bridge, and it [...]

    • Mark says:

      Beautiful and lyrical and satirical all at the same time. It's clear that Grushin has read the Russian masters - Bulgakov, Gogol, Dostoevsky - and it shines through in this gorgeous little book. I picked it up from the library, but now I wish that I'd bought itMy other comment is that it frequently reads like a Chagall painting. And while I didn't necessarily care for Chagall before I read this book, I think I like his work now. I need to go to the MOMA to check.

    • Beverly says:

      Lyrical, but strangely uncompelling, this is the story of a moral and mental breakdown. An artist of brilliant promise in his youth, Sukhanov sells out to the Soviet way, becoming an art critic/apparatchik promoting 'Russian' art as opposed to decadant Western art. In 1985 at age 56, the combination of mid-life and glasnost brings his past crashing down on him. As in European literature of the 20th century, politics shapes life in a way that is unknown in this country.

    • DonaAna says:

      One of the best books I've read this year. Gripping, yet feels instantly like a classic, feels slightly like Bulgakov. Just simply loved it. Wish more people could write like this.

    • John says:

      Sukhanov's wife, Nina, describing her husband's early, experimental paintings, when she first saw them, says: they are dark, very dark indeed, darker than expected but, also, strange andautiful." This is a pretty good summing up of the novel, too. Simply put, hahaha, this is a dark, colourful novel, bleak, dripping wet, grey, heavy and light as snow flakes, bright, slow, annoying in parts, and rising to flights of fancy so beautiful, painful, and inspiring in its anguish and salvation that I wan [...]

    • jennifer says:

      Quick quibble: aggravatingly adverbby. (A little alliteration for what ails ya?) It slows the reader's pace, which is a fortunate side effect, because this book does so much in the way of imagination, paranoia, and simple historical narrative. There's a lot worth paying attention to.My favorite stylistic flair is the author's true stealth in sliding from third-person to first-person narrative in service of flashbacks. The stitching is impeccable. They never felt sloppy or even a tinge pretentiou [...]

    • David says:

      A fascinating and deeply imaginative novel, beautifully written, surreal and all too real. To an American audience it may read as a high-art tale of midlife crisis, with a Russian twist. That is fair enough, and the novel is highly accomplished on that level. But it is also shot through with quintessentially Russian metaphysics. You will particularly like this book if you are a reader who appreciates writing that exploits words' ability to do more than represent a simulacrum of reality.

    • Saxon says:

      Second installment of "Novel on the Globe" course. I really enjoyed this novel and would give it four and a half stars if the website so allowed me. Following in the tradition of most Russian novels, I feel like I could read this novel a few more times and still not entirely obtain all the symbolism and meaning behind it. There are certainly layers upon layers within this text.The story revolves around the middle-aged character Sukhanov during glasnost period Moscow. At first, we learn that Sukh [...]

    • Amy says:

      This novel at its core is a story of man in his 50s having to confront the decisions that he made as a younger man and how they shaped the course of his life. Sukhanov essentially had two paths that he could have taken. On one path he pursues his passions but will inevitably struggle economically and will be outcasted to a certain extent. The other path requires him to give up, even forsake, that which he is most talented and passionate about, but in exchange he will live quite comfortably. Havi [...]

    • Kate Sykes says:

      A profoundly engaging character-based novel about a Russian art critic's rise to fame and subsequent fall from grace. Spanning approximately fifty years of Anatoly Sukhanov's life, the story takes shape from the schizophrenic paroxysms of the character's daydreams and nightmares. On the surface a book about a middle-aged man losing his mind and therefore finding himself, Dream Life is also an allegory of Russian communism, and a formidable treatise on surrealism. This book succeeds on every leve [...]

    • Bettie☯ says:

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    • Dirk says:

      Olga Grushin's tale took my breath away, then, thankfully, gave it back to me.

    • Nicole says:

      This story reminded me of the silent film, Un Chien Andalou (by film maker Bunuel & Surrealist Artist Dali), in its dreamlike transitioning and confusion. I understand what the author was trying to do & I think for a debut novel, Grushin’s is a success: nuanced characters and flawless writing. However, I was bored by the Russian setting & the failed artist story line. Grushin’s second novel, Forty Rooms, is one of my favourite books. This book was similar but focused on a male ch [...]

    • Carl R. says:

      I have this hankering to learn languages. Problem is, I’m not so good at it. It’s a little like Salieri in Amadeus, born with the desire and some ability to compose music, but unable to reach the moutaintops he can see so clearly and forced to watch an unworthy twit scramble up easily ahead of him. So I’m even more in awe of writers who not only author fine works of literature in English, but do so in English as their second or third language. Conrad and Nabakov are the only two that pop i [...]

    • Robert says:

      The Dream LIfe of Sukhanov by Olga Grushin raises the question of whether any book should be called a “first novel.” This fanciful, lyrical, and somewhat odd book is the work of an accomplished writer who surely had written many more pages than were finally included in The Dream Life of Sukhanov when it was publishedOur hero, if we may call him that, is Anatoly Sukhanov, a Soviet bureaucrat of the arts who gave up painting for criticism and has become, at the novel’s beginning, editor of a [...]

    • Tom says:

      Every now and then history elbows its way into a book I’m reading. The life of recently departed Vaclav Havel, at first glance, would seem to offer a stern rebuke to life of Grushin’s protag, “Tolya” Sukhanov (is it fair do compare historical figures with fictional characters? why else to we read novels, if not to see the grubby, muddled “truth” of “real” life in a new light?). Havel, an artist in his own right, chose not to “live within the lie,” as Solzhenitsyn put it; Toly [...]

    • Louise says:

      In the mid-1980's, Sukhanov has reached the top of his career in Soviet arts administration. In the journal he edits he pans the art he loves as capitalist decadence. This editor position has a lot of perks and he holds it by virtue of his wife's connections.As the novel progresses, Grushin explores whether or not Sukhanov ever had a choice in life. His father's fate in Stalin's Russia is symbolic of many who perished for perceived political crimes or for just being individuals. Sukhanov's life [...]

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