The novel traces his transformation from a child, who enjoys chasing rats in the stairwell of his dilapidated apartment building, to the omnipotent leader, who builds a terrarium in his Residence, where he keeps a dozen vipers captured on a ...
Author: David Guy
The Terrarium uncovers the hidden demons of Russia's President Vladimir Putin - and reveals the secret, often shadowy, aspects of his life. Putin's sensational story unfolds in a whimsical synthesis of realistic elements and dystopian ones - the phantasmagorical, grotesque and satirical - a style that is singularly suitable to the distorted realities of Putin's reign. The action takes place in the imaginary country of Slavishia, a land that is unmistakably Russia, although its name also amalgamates the elements of Slav and slavish. The protagonist - whose abbreviated name VVP, signifying Vigilant Vindictive Potentate or V.V. Putin, people utter only in fearful whispers - is revealed dynamically through a plot that moves about freely in time and space. The novel traces his transformation from a child, who enjoys chasing rats in the stairwell of his dilapidated apartment building, to the omnipotent leader, who builds a terrarium in his Residence, where he keeps a dozen vipers captured on a hunt. In the course of his evolution, he studies at the university, offers his services to the infamous KGB, and becomes an intelligence officer in what was then East Germany. There, he fathers a son out-of-wedlock, and pays the young man off when years later the son files a lawsuit to shake his "dad" down for money. Upon Putin's return from Germany, this anonymous petty officer rapidly becomes a lead figure in the administration of the Mayor of Slavishia's second most important city - where he distinguishes himself by feeding the starving population with dog food - and then a ruler tormented by nightmares in which he converses with the devil. Though the crux of the plot is VVP's vertiginous ascent to power, we see him too as an ardent lover, who ultimately weds a charming young gymnast and as a merciless crusader against the opposition - a man who mistrusts and fears the West, as is blatantly apparent during his conversation with the American President. In the spring of 2017, the protagonist dies in a helicopter crash, and Slavishia is plunged into chaos. The prices of oil and gas fall precipitously, a financial crisis devastates the country, and its people take to the streets and rebel. The reenergized opposition clamors for fair elections coupled with a Constitutional Amendment to limit the new president's authority, aiming to transform Slavishia into a democratic republic modeled on the western prototype. It is at this precise moment that VVP's clone enters the political arena... What will happen next? Will Slavishia develop into a true democracy or will it be doomed to repeat its recent history, enslaving itself to yet another dictator? David Guy is a New York-based journalist and writer with a substantial body of work authored both in his native Russia and since his arrival in the United States in 1993. Over the course of 30 years, Mr. Guy worked in a variety of roles for a popular Moscow newspaper. He has since served as editor-in-chief of several weekly American-Russian newspapers, and he currently serves as executive editor of the international literary journal Time and Place. He also makes regular appearances on the premier Russian-language cable channel RTN's "Press Club." Mr. Guy has written more than twenty novels. Among his works to receive the broadest recognition are Goodbye, Eternal Friend about Dostoyevsky's love affair; Happy Birthday and Bodyguard; Invasion, a documentary about the Soviet war in Afghanistan; and a history of the life, struggle and demise of the Minsk ghetto during World War II, recently released in English under the title Innocence in Hell. His most recent books to be released in Russia include the novels Jackpot and The Subjunctive; Sky Gravity, a collection of essays about airplane construction; and While the World Turns, a 750-page saga following two branches of a family as they grow and intertwine over the span of a hundred years and two continents.