The Queue, Book Review

Mary F. Zirin

From Publishers Weekly
A Soviet book illustrator and designer, Sorokin, whose literary works have not been officially published in his homeland, makes his English debut with a "docudrama" that offers the various comments of Soviet citizens queued up for products. Sorokin never says what made in either Yugoslavia, Sweden or the United States. The book consists of dialogue between those who endlessly wait and blank pages when they fall asleep for the night. Focusing on Vadim Alekseev, an editor with a weakness for vodka, Sorokin weaves in the philosophy of waiting in line ("new people are joining on . . . . Then of course it makes sense to stay."), perceptions of America ("They have to work their arses off over there, but here if you come drunk to work it's no big deal") and romance ("One moment I'm standing in some crazy queue being pushed around and waiting for God knows what, and next thing I know I'm sitting here drinking wine with a charming woman"). With humor, anger and irony, Sorokin creates a brilliant set piece, conveying the absurdity, the dehumanization and, above all, the inevitability of waiting in line. Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal
This novel reduces to delightful absurdity the rough democracy of the long lines that Soviet people-in-the-street endure in order to buy "luxury" goods. Sorokin is an innovative young writer, never published officially in the USSR, who draws on two great Russian traditions sorely missing from Soviet literature: avant-garde experiment and a flair for nonsense. The book has no description, settings, or stage directionnothing but voices: snatches of conversation, rumors, jokes, howls of rage, roll calls, and sexy moans. Sorokin's magic pen turns this framework into a mini-picaresque novel with a hero of sorts. Readers with some imagination will enjoy following Vadim and his co-queuers through their days and nights on line and off. Mary F. Zirin, Altadena, Cal.Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.