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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Lying Year

Andrei Gelasimov

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To purchase The Lying Year

Title: The Lying Year
Author: Andrei Gelasimov
Genre: Novel
Written: 2003 (Eng. 2013)
Length: 316 pages
Original in: Russian
Availability: The Lying Year - US
The Lying Year - UK
The Lying Year - Canada
L'année du Mensonge - France
  • Russian title: Год обмана
  • Translated by Marian Schwartz

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Our Assessment:

B- : some decent ideas, but all rather too drawn out

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Publishers Weekly . 17/12/2012 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "Gelasimov shifts perspectives among characters, reinforcing the sense of truth as an illusion, and writes clipped dialogue and brisk prose that play up the charactersí delusions of grandeur. A playful premise and clear artifice entertain at first, but wear thin as the stakes rise." - Publishers Weekly

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The Lying Year begins in the spring of 1998, where recently fired twenty-three-year-old Mikhail Vorobyov finds himself called in to his former boss's office -- and is offered a job, not with the company again (as his boss points out, he was a fairly problematic and "worthless employee") but in a personal capacity. Worried about his teenage son, Sergei -- Seryozha --, the wealthy boss says he wants Mikhail to make a man of the kid: teach him to drink, to fight, to chase women. At double Mikhail's former salary, with an expense account, and his choice of cars.
       Divided into seasons, the novel isn't called 'the lying year' for nothing, and the lies begin early on -- though Mikhail is slow to catch on about some of this lying (and later becomes preoccupied with his own ...). Pavel Petrovich isn't so much worried about his boy becoming a man as he needs someone to keep tabs on the kid and what he's up to; the successful businessman also has plans to marry off Seryozha to an Italian girl, as part of expanding his international dealings. Sergei, meanwhile, isn't quite the would-be homosexual his father fears; in fact, he's trying to hide his relationship with a local girl that his father presumably would strongly disapprove of, Marina. And while Sergei hasn't told Marina about his wealthy background, her father is very much aware of it -- and since he owes some unpleasant characters a lot of money that's something that appeals to him greatly.
       Of course, when Mikhail takes a liking to Marina matters get even more complicated. And so, repeatedly, Mikhail finds:

I always had to tell some lie. Lying had become an inalienable part of my life once again. What other choice did I have ?
       The novel shifts points of view, as various characters' perspectives are presented. The bulk of the story is presented from Mikhail's point of view, but a significant chunk is also devoted to Seryozha's, while a variety of other characters briefly have their say (right down to Marina's barely school-aged little brother). This variety helps to liven the story up some, though in some cases it can feel fairly digressive: Sergei's brief diary entries give some insight into what's going through his mind, but the shift from the present-day 1998 diary to him reading entries from his 1995 diary is already a bit of an uncomfortable stretch.
       There's a decent comedy of errors running through the novel, of layers of mistaken and disguised identities, ranging from Marina being passed off as Mikhail's girlfriend when they travel to Italy with Sergei and his father, to meet Sergei's intended, to the person Mikhail winds up hiding in his apartment. With big money and sordid elements involved in a variety of aspects of the story there's more than a bit of action, too. Still, Gelasimov has difficulty maintaining much narrative momentum despite the various threads (and threats to the characters); in this regard the multiple perspectives don't help at all, keeping readers from getting fully on board with any single character and their plight. It all winds up a bit baggy and gassy, a decent thriller-idea that's stretched out for too long -- and in too many directions.

- M.A.Orthofer, 15 March 2013

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The Lying Year: Reviews: Andrei Gelasimov: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Russian author Andrei Gelasimov (Andreï Guelassimov; Андрей Валерьевич Геласимов) was born in 1965.

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© 2013-2021 the complete review

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