Aleksandr Grigorenko

Ilget. Tri imeni sudby Ilget. Three names of fate
Novel. Arsis. Moscow 2013. 500 pages
Foreign rights: Bulgaria

In ILGET, as in its companion novel MEBET, the author does not treat the Siberian Taiga in the high north of Russia merely as an exotic background, his interest lies in exploring the rituals of the Nenets and Evenks people and the mystical beliefs which shape their daily lives, asking the old questions about existence, happiness and the loneliness of man. And yet again, this is not a classical saga of inflexible heroes and predictable fates and fortunes; we are presented instead with a modern novel of magical realism with versatile heroes who challenge their destiny. Like on a movie screen we witness gods and demons, pledges and profanity, love and blood bonds, supplications and rituals. And at the end we realize that, although we consider ourselves to be civilized in these modern times, there is only a small step separating us from those savages - for, after all, we are all human beings.

If in MEBET the story was about the transformation of a godly hero into a normal loving father, in ILGET we follow a small, puny man who begins to take his life into his own hands. Separated from his tribe as a child, despised and tormented for his weakness, Ilget later leads his own tribe and takes them on a path of revenge. Revenge for his lost childhood, the loss of his twin brother and the loss of the love of his life. But Ilget's journey is also one of leniency and mercy for the sick and weak. This crusade is the main course of the novel, although there are many minor branches. At a particular juncture Ilget decides to leave the river of his preordained destiny, for on the other side of the Yenisei river there is another life and other countries. The Siberian gets to know Mongols and Arabs. It is not, however, his intention to change his life for another, rather he hopes in foreign lands to find the key to his own existence.

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