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Durham University

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Publication details for Prof Mikhail Epstein

Epstein, Mikhail (2002). Cries in the New Wilderness: from the Files of the Moscow Institute of Atheism. Paul Dry Books.

Author(s) from Durham


Already a cult classic in Russia, this novel takes the form of a secret KGB-sponsored study in which Professor Raisa O Gibaydulina reports on the (imagined) religious and non-religious sects that have mysteriously sprouted up in the late 1980s Soviet Union. These bizarre groups of fanatics -- among them the Pushkinians, the Steppies, and the Foodniks -- give voice to their deepest thoughts and philosophies. While the sects are at odds with one another, they all share the need to believe in something greater as they face the spiritual vacuum brought about by the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union. Pathos and humour intertwine to create an unforgettable image of the human response to spiritual emptiness that leaves readers wondering how humans will appease their spiritual yearnings in the face of monolithic materialism.