According to Nicolai Lilin’s superior in the Russian army, the first Chechen War was ‘just a cover for the trafficking run by the corrupt people in the government’. This is one of the few slivers of opinion, political or otherwise, Framing this pitiless account of the second conflict by Lilin, an elite sniper who admits it was essential he remained scared to retain his sanity.
This extraordinary memoir plunges us back into the carnage of the last decade’s Second Chechen War. After a brutal Siberian education, Nicolai Lilin is called up as a sniper in the Russian army, fighting among the ruins of the Soviet empire.
Books Briefly Noted – The New Yorker – June 13 & 20, 2011
With its exhaustive descriptions of ritual and tradition, “Siberian Education” at times resembles a work of cultural anthropology.
Siberia is, suddenly, hot. This has nothing to do with climate change, but is rather the result of a concerted burst of literary interest in a place that has traditionally been exiled to Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s oeuvre, or used as the standby metaphor for “frozen backwater.”
In “Siberian Education,” Nicolai Lilin remembers growing-up in a violent criminal underworld. Even if only one-tenth of it is true, says reviewer Toby Lichtig, the book still achieves something impressive.
We could learn a lot from the honour code of a Siberian criminal caste, says Irvine Welsh
In this country we have specially designated zones where people learn to be criminals. In such areas there is practically no legitimate employment, with dealing drugs just about the sole way of earning cash. Youths offend, we send [...]
A shocking expose of an extraordinary Siberian criminal underworld. Nicolai Lilin was born in 1981 and grew up in the small republic of Transnistria, which declared its independence in 1990 but has never been recognised. Siberian Education, set in a small and tight-knit community of honest criminals in a remote part of Russia, is a [...]