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.
But a series of increasingly bizarre events transforms Sukhanov’s perfect world into a nightmare. Buried dreams return to haunt him, long-repressed figures from his past surface to torment him, new political alignments threaten to undo him, and his once loving family and loyal comrades grow distant. As he stumbles through the dark corridors of memory, his life begins to unravel, and he finds himself losing everything he sold his soul to gain.
Olga Grushin tells the story of Sukhanov’s betrayal of his talent, his friends, and his principles in dream sequences that may be real and in real time that may be nightmare, effortlessly shifting the borders between the two. Her masterly play with voice, time, and reality makes this often surreal exploration of self-dissolution and faithlessness an extraordinary reading experience. And her subtle transformation of Sukhanov from an arrogant and self-absorbed member of the ruling class to a terrified beggar in his own private hell is nothing short of miraculous. The Dream Life of Sukhanov is a virtuoso performance, original, startling, haunting.