Senchin’s Satiric “I”

Alexei Pavlenko, Colorado College

Roman Senchin (b. 1971) has provoked a sharp critical response with the collection of his short stories Afinskie nochi [Athenian nights] in 2000, and three povesti, Minus [Minus] in 2002, Nubuk [Suede] in 2003 and, most recently, Vpered i vverkh na sevshikh batareikakh, [Onwards and upwards on dead batteries] (Novyi mir, No 4, 2004). In their reviews and analyses, Alexander Ageev, Maia Kucherskaia, Valeriia Pustovaia, and Dmitri Bavilskii express similar sentiments: Senchin the author is identical with his eponymous protagonist, which is a sign of the author’s lack of imagination and even spirituality (Pustovaia, Bavilskii); his focus is the unremitting drabness of day-to-day existence (byt) in today's Russia; his language is awkward and unpolished. Senchin’s supporters (Remizova, Rodnianskaia) point to Senchin’s “remarkably tight strategy” by which he succeeds in “delving into the “flat” realia of day-to-day existence, and in doing this, uncovering under the surface of the flattened layer, the unexpected space.” Neither his detractors nor his supporters have examined Senchin’s use of autobiography for satiric purposes. Relying on his predecessors’ (Erofeev, Dovlatov, and Limonov) models of parodying the established genre through autobiographical mode (Karen Ryan-Hayes), in Vpered vverkh… Senchin creates a subtle and ruthless satire of a modern writer’s confession.