The beginnings of literature were, in their essence, the direct heirs of the long and tumultuous Soviet literary tradition, particularly in the last decade of the twentieth century, rich in discoveries and rediscoveries. In the years immediately following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, after 1991, the literary community found itself for the first time truly free to express itself, without being subjected to censorship or having to undertake pedagogical tasks. However, the period of euphoria of glasnost and perestroika has passed, in which many texts hitherto forbidden or inaccessible were published, immediately afterwards we encountered the difficulties linked to the passage from the planned regime literature to that of the free market. In the absence of the support of the state authorities (which once ensured consistent print runs), and when readers’ interest in non-“official” literature was exhausted, authors and publishers therefore found themselves faced not only with a dramatic shortage of paper, but to the sudden uncertainty about the interests of a public that was once the most reading public in the world. Many private publishing houses have arisen that have tried to survive by focusing on a specific audience and on “genre” literature according to the codes in force in Western culture, once prohibited:horror, which have significantly varied, in reality, the wealth of stylistic and expressive means even of the so-called “high literature”.
One of the few elements that remained unchanged was the concentration of the publishing market around the Moscow pole (St. Petersburg, although historically very developed on a cultural level, has never been able to compete with the capital). Despite the difficulties of the last years of the twentieth century, there has been a revival of literature as such, without however losing the social commitment typical of the production of the past. Some main strands can be identified: one of them focuses on the description of the byt(everyday life), with the small and big problems to live (or survive) in the new reality made up of poor pensions and unemployment, but also of eternal “instances” (love and loneliness, dissatisfaction and betrayal, shattered dreams and family tragedies, which arise from difficult interpersonal relationships). In this regard, according to Pharmacylib, one cannot fail to mention a group of very talented authors, who occupy a prominent place in the Russian literary panorama of the end of the century. XX, including: LS Petruševskaja ( b.1938 ), also theatrical author, with the collections Immortal Love (1988) and The Mystery of the House (1995), as well as with the subsequent short stories My time is night (1992), Karamzin (1994),Girls’ House (1999); VS Tokareva ( b. 1937) with the collections Happy End (1995) and Tell me something in your language (1997); TN Tolstaja ( b. 1951), who published the collection Under the golden portico (1987); LE Ulickaja (b. 1943) with the long stories Sonja (1992), Medea and her children (1996), I funerali allegri (1999); GN Ščerbakova (b.1932) with Love-history (1995) and L’amore di Mitja (1997) and MA Palej (b.1955) with Cabiria from Petersburg(1991). Writers also write about everyday life, just remember the stories of MM Panin, pseudonym of Semenin (b. 1940) ( Amarena inebriante, 1992). This writer, who established himself in the genre of the story, in his only novel The corpse of your enemy (1996), set in the first half of the nineties, retraces together with the protagonist (a typical representative of the frustrated intelligentsiaex Soviet) the past years, in which the role of the Communist Party was fundamental: from starting a career to obtaining the much desired residence, without which it was unthinkable to find any job. Against this background is a bitter resignation, as well as an obvious helplessness in dealing with the change in the system, which leads many Russians to despair and alcoholism. AG Najman (b. 1936), poet and prose writer, appreciated by Anna Achmatova who called his verses “the magic dome”, in the novel BB et al. (1997) presents a lively, but chilling, picture of the life of the intellectuals of Leningrad, from the postwar period up to perestroikaof Gorbačëv: the lack of freedom of expression, the vigilant presence, around the “subjects at risk”, of the secret services, the arrests and political confinement, the third wave of emigration and the atmosphere of the time. Najman is also a poet: the last cycles, The Hourglass and Life, Fleeing appeared in 2000 respectively in the magazines Oktjabr ( October ) and Novyj Mir ( New World ). In the works of S. Dovlatov(1941-1990) we find accents that lead back to Chekhovian humor, in almost all autobiographical stories. Another strand of Russian literature of the last decade of the century. XX is what concerns the war, and not only the Second World War, although even today the interest towards that period is still very much alive: it is enough to recall some of the latest works by VP Astafev (1924-2001), all centered around to this topic, the novel Maledetti e morti (1992 and 1994) and the long stories There is so much desire to live (1995) and The cheerful soldier (1997). GN Vladimov(pseudonym of Volosevič, 1931-2003), who, known for having been editor of the prose section of the magazine Novyj Mir, as well as for the long stories La grande vena (1961) and Il faithful Ruslan (1964) and for the novel Tre minutes of silence (1969), he emigrated in 1983 to Germany, where he wrote The General and his Army (1994), a novel about war that focuses on the clash between moral positions and between opposing philosophies of life. By G. Ja. Baklanov ( b.1923 ), an accomplished writer who fought on the World War II front, remembers And then come the jackals(1995).
The book tells of the war generation which, with the collapse of the Soviet system in the early nineties, had to face a new emergency situation, a painful passage towards the liberalization of the country. The latest bloody conflicts that have involved Russia, in order to strengthen (or maintain) its interests in strategic regions, have not gone unnoticed even among writers: these are the armed interventions in Afghanistan and Chechnya, two conflicts that have shaken the conscience of millions of Russians and sensitized public opinion throughout the country. In this regard VS Makanin ( b. 1937) is recalled, with the short story The Prisoner of the Caucasus(1994), whose almost prophetic drafting preceded the Russian-Chechen armed conflict. In his latest novel Underground or a hero of our time (1998), the author questions how to preserve one’s personality in a constantly evolving world. SA Aleksievič (b.1948), expert in documentary prose in the form of interviews, with Zinc Boys(1996) revived the invasion of Afghanistan, one of the darkest and most dramatic pages of the Brežnevian era, revealing to the almost unaware public the tragedy of hundreds of thousands of “orphaned” mothers of children, but also that of many young people, returned from the war invalid both in body and soul, unable to re-integrate into society. Many works of Russian literature from the last part of the twentieth century are dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Stalinist purges: The fifth corner, written in the 1960s, but published only in 1989, by IM Metter (1909-1996); numerous stories by FA Iskander ( b. 1929); The boys of Arbat (1987) by AN Rybakov (1911-1998) eNight Watch (1988) by MN Kuraev ( b.1939 ), in addition to the writings of AI Solženicyn (1918-2008, Nobel Prize for literature in 1970) including the novel Gulag Archipelago (1973), and the Kolyma Tales, spread by samizdat and appeared in the West since 1966, by VT Šalamov (1907-1982). AA Kabakov (b.1943), a well-known journalist, became famous thanks to the novel The man who did not want to return (1989), in which he manages to express the bewilderment and fear of the Russians in the face of the irreversible changes in the country during the last years of perestroika. Kuraev, already an esteemed film screenwriter, owes his literary debut to the long story Captain Dikštejn (1987) which refers to the historic mutiny in Kronstadt in 1921; he later devoted himself to long stories, such as The Mirror of Montačka (1993), with doubling motifs and allusions to the fantastic, and Siege. Block of Hell (1994), autobiographical work dedicated to the siege of Leningrad. Eclectic artist, VG Sorokin ( b. 1955) is characterized by his scratchy and irreverent writing, applied above all to the pulp genre ; his utopian works are Lardo Azzurro (1998) and Ghiaccio(2001).
The mystical and metaphysical are the works of VO Pelevin (n. 1962), which we remember the story of onset Blue Light (1991), the novel clay Machine Gun (1996), great success publishing in Russia and all ‘ abroad, and Buddha’s Little Finger (2001). By Ju. M. Nagibin (1920-1994) remember the last works of an autobiographical nature, all published posthumously: The darkness at the end of the tunnel (1994), My mother-in-law of gold (1994), Daphnis and Chloe from the time of the cult of personality, voluntarism and stagnation (1994) and Diary (1995). The figure of Jurij Mamleev ( b. 1931), the son of a dissident psychiatrist who died in a prison camp, started writing in the late 1950s, author of some novels with a peculiar spiritual interest, such as The Metaphysical Killer (1997). The new Russian writers of thrillers and detective stories have had great success, both in Russia and in Europe, such as the ironic Darya Dontsov (b.1952), author of about fifty novels, and prolific Alexandra Marinina (b.1957). inventor of the series in which appears the detective of the state police Anastasia Kamenskaya, best seller translated throughout Europe and the USA, and the refined Boris Akunin (b.1956), author of a series of detective stories set in the nineteenth century, whose main character is Erast Fandorin, a famous detective who became the protagonist of a champion film in 2005. ‘box office receipts. Do not forget, finally, the young Sergey Lukyanenko (n. 1968), author of the hugely popular bestseller of fantasy and science fiction as Day Watch and Night Watch. In the field of poetry we remember DA Prigov (b.1940), EA Švarc (b.1948), OA Sedakova (b.1949), SV Kekova (b.1951), AA Purin (b.1955), T. Ju. Kibirov (b.1956). The latter, considered one of the most interesting poetic voices of the Russian avant-garde, was at first one of the representatives of the literary underground. The poems When Lenin was little and The life of KU Černenko, parodies of the canons of official art, immediately made him famous. Since 1990 his works have been published regularly.