Vladimir Sorokin Visits UCLA

“Вверх вверх вверх” (Telluria 2013)

The postmodernist Russian author Vladimir Sorokin gave a reading at UCLA on Friday, October 14, as part of his tour of the U.S.

163 people gathered at Kaplan Hall for Sorokin’s evening readings from his novels and the Q&A session that followed. He read passages from some of his most famous works, such as Telluria and “Book Name.” Translator Max Lawton-read from his translations of Sorokin’s works and served as his interpreter during the Q&A. . Lawton has translated many of Sorokin’s books and has worked as Sorokin’s interpreter for the his his entire US tour this year. Sasha Razor, UCLA’s Flagship outreach and marketing coordinator, served as a mediator of the event.     

Sorokin, an outspoken critic of Putin’s regime, denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the event. Sorokin’s works often push boundaries. His well-known works include the dystopian novels Day of the Oprichnik (2006) and Telluria (2013). Blue Lard (1999),provoked a public outcry in Russia due to the inclusion of a sex scene between Stalin and Khrushchev. Sorokin’s history of controversial writing has made him a target of the pro-Putin bloc. 

Vladimir Sorokin (Left) and Max Lawton

The audience included members of the Russian-speaking community, including Nadya Tolokonnikova, a political activist and musician and co-founder of the feminist art and music collective, Pussy Riot, who was jailed for years by Putin’s regime. Other notable members of the audience included Konstantin Borovoi, a former Russian politician, and Masha Mashkova, a Russian actress and daughter of Russian actor Vladimir Mashkov.

Questions from the audience ranged from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to Sorokin’s writing inspirations. About the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sorokin predicted a Ukrainian victory followed by the collapse of Putin’s regime.