“In War, Prose Withers But Poetry Thrives,” Says Russian Writer Vladimir Sorokin


"I am Russian and I can't see Russian from the outside. But the war left its mark on our relationship with our language. I realized that when my friends and I speak Russian now, there is a new feeling of shame – we speak the language of the aggressor," said VLADIMIR SOROKIN at the very beginning of the discussion. He spoke openly about war and literature in front of hundreds of spectators.

The Russian author currently living in Berlin openly criticizes Russian aggression in Ukraine. "Literature has never stopped war. It is hard to write prose during war. Writers need some distance for their work. But war is such an ontological funnel that sucks all distance in. Although poets thrive. A lot of them have recently appeared, the war has woken them up and a lot of strong verses about the war have been written. It is also the time of journalism," Sorokin described the current situation.

His writing was also given space during the discussion. The author explained how he approaches his storytelling. "Almost all of my stuff over the past twenty years has been about a world that exists at a point between the future and the past. I write like that because I am not happy with the present." According to Sorokin, today's world is too complex and it is impossible to describe it through linear writing. In his work, he therefore uses a system of literary mirrors to depict challenging topics.

During the discussion, Vladimir Sorokin described the genesis of his character Dr. Garin and also reflected on whether literature is good for health. With the exception of texts written purely for commercial purposes, the author believes that literature has the ability to wake up readers from routine life. "For me, literature is a hard drug that helps us forget who we are and where we are," he concluded.