Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Arts: Books: Siberia By Nikolai Maslov

Siberia. By Nikolai Maslov
By John Zuarino

Following the recent trend of local publishing houses to translate foreign works, Soft Skull Press has imported Nikolai Maslov's Siberia, a graphic novel from Russia. Maslov's book chronicles his life during the last twenty years of the Soviet Union, where he was drafted into the Red Army in Mongolia and later landed in a Moscow psych ward after his brother's death.

Each panel evokes a dreamlike quality. Maslov relies on soft pencil drawings and completely avoids color, allowing for a greater contrast between the truly beautiful Siberian landscapes and the grotesque Russian soldiers' faces.

Maslov says of his book, "This graphic novel is nasty, very nasty, but it is the reflection of my life. …My story is neither the most violent, nor the most tragic." As horrible as things get for Maslov, one needs only to read over his elaborate dream sequence in which old-fashioned Russian clay ovens parade through Red Square before the USSR dissolves. It's unlike anything ever seen in American comics.

Rating: 4 out of 5 clay ovens.

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