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Bobrov, Gleb

Entry updated 3 October 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1964-    ) Russian-Ukrainian author, poet, journalist and memoirist, who first found fame with a number of works based on his years serving as a sniper during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Beginning with his magazine story "Chuzhiye Fermopily" ["An Alien Thermopylae"] (2005 Zvezda #12) he began to inject increasing notes of fiction and myth-making, imagining Afghanistan as a precursor to yet more dramatic developments in world politics. First published online in 2006, Epokha Mertvorozhdennykh ["Age of the Stillborn"] (2007 fixup), is Military SF that centres the Russian-Ukrainians of Bobrov's birthplace, Luhansk, as a partisan resistance against an increasingly oppressive, NATO-affiliated government in Kyiv. Following the real-world outbreak of war over Crimea, the book was repackaged as Ukraina v ogne ["Ukraine on Fire"] (2014), with a cover design that misleadingly implied that it was the first of a Sharecrop franchise that incorporated the similar Pole boya: Ukraina ["Battlefield Ukraine"] novels of Georgiy Savitsky, and a repackaging of Dmitry Iankovskii's Rapsodiya gneva ["Rhapsody of Wrath"] (2000), in which NATO forces attempt to invade Crimea, among similar works by new authors.

The critic Sergei Voloshin, in his essay "Epokha Mertvorozhdennykh: budusgcheye, kotoroye ne pozhelayesh" ["Age of the Stillborn: The Future You Do Not Want"] (22 December 2008, characterised Bobrov's work as fiction rooted in the history and traditions of eastern Ukraine, a deprived, Soviet-leaning region of "vodka-quaffing Donetsk beggar-miners" starkly differentiated from the bourgeois pro-European "coffee-drinking Galicians" of metropolitan areas. In doing so, he alluded to cultural divisions beneath the surface of modern Ukraine as different as those between East and West Germany during the Cold War, a split already detailed in the earlier Rivne/Rovno (2002) by Oleksandr Irvanets. Voloshin, however, found Irvanets' allegory to be arrogant and condescending, pointing instead to Bobrov's novel as a robust and revolutionary assertion of values native not to Ukraine, but to its Donbass sub-region.

From 2014, Bobrov became a key figure within the Writers Union and cultural outreach programmes in his native Luhansk, now the breakaway Luhansk People's Republic, overseeing the publication of several small-press collections distributed directly to local libraries and educational institutions, seemingly in an effort to bootstrap a "national" literature into existence. Returning to the military reportage of his Afghan writings, they are presented as true stories from a civil war that Bobrov himself was now locally lauded for having somehow predicted. Compare to Fedor Berezin, who performed a similar function in the Donetsk People's Republic. [JonC]

see also: Andriy Valentynov; Yauza.

Gleb Leonidovich Bobrov

born Khrustalnyi, Luhansk, USSR (Ukraine): 16 September 1964

works (selected)


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