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The Clay Machine-Gun

Victor Pelevin
Date Published
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The Clay Machine-Gun is a novel rich in hilarious paradox. Pelevin himself has described it as ‘the first novel in world literature which takes place in an absolute void’. Controversially denied the Russian Booker Prize – the Jury President branded it as a kind of ‘computer virus designed to destroy the cultural memory’ – the book became a huge cult success in Russia.

The Clay Machine-Gun is a nightmarish fantasy about identity, crime and Russian history. The action cuts deliriously between present-day Moscow and 1919, the era of the Civil War, in which the narrator finds himself serving as a commissar in the division of the legendary commander Vasily Chapaev, and his formidable machine-gunner sidekick, Anna. Hailed as the greatest Russian novel of the post-Soviet era, The Clay Machine-Gun confirmed Victor Pelevin’s status as one of the brightest stars in the Russian literary firmament.


Born in 1962 in Moscow, Victor Pelevin has swiftly been recognised as the leading Russian novelist of the new generation. Before studying at Moscow’s Gorky Institute of Literature, he worked in a number of jobs, including as an engineer on a project to protect MiG fighter planes from insect interference in tropical conditions. One of the few novelists today who…

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