Sunday, March 26, 2006

read Monstrum

the winter snows of Moscow cover many of the city's flaws: the glum architecture, and the grime and clutter of its breakneck growth. But the winter and the snow also reveal other, hidden aspects of modern Russia: the superpower status it still retains among its neighbours; the desperation that lurks beneath the oil-fuelled glitz; the brutality, lawlessness and all-permeating corruption.


...another group that is symptomatic of Russia's post-Soviet condition: Moscow's street children, products of the widespread family breakdown that the collapse of the Soviet empire and the end of communism brought with them.

In 2002, Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, declared that the problem of child homelessness in Russia had reached “threatening proportions”. The nation's runaways then numbered in the millions...last year the interior minister declared that Russia was living through a new wave of child homelessness, comparable to those induced by the civil war and the second world war.

A winter's tale Feb 16th 2006, The Economist

A tale of a grim Moscow winter, the city's streets swarming with armies of homeless street-children. I am reminded of Donald James's Monstrum. A great thriller by a brilliant but mysteriously under-rated author, it is not as widely-read and acclaimed as it deserves to be. But even Monstrum is a lot better known than James's first great book - the prophetic The Fall of the Russian Empire, published in 1982. Anyway, note to self, must re-read Monstrum, and must visit Moscow...