Bulat Khanov’s «Variable Values» was shortlisted for «National Bestseller» 2020.
What might people who are ostensibly very different find that they have in common when they meet in a large city? Each of them thinks that he or she is free, yet gets entangled in the nets of the society: Ira is constrained by the pressure of conventions and prejudices; Elisha, due to illness, cannot do what he’d like to do; Mark, free from concerns about how to make ends meet, tries to escape his past, albeit unsuccessfully; Sergey, who thinks he has made it in life and that he has everything, is bound by obligations and subordinated to family autocracy. Will they be able to shed their dependencies and discover free will?
This is a book about rebels who have a good enough sense of humor not to label themselves as such. There are bird calls instead of songs of protest in their earphones; they don’t drink cheap alcohol but admire craft beer; they don’t look for nirvana but are in constant search of people they can trust. They never let themselves pass by injustice and they possess a sense of self-worth. What will they be able to confront the world with?
They are aware that no one has ever managed to break free from oneself, time or society, and they want to become an exception to the rule. They do not choose between traditions and progress, between patriots and liberals, between dark and light, because there are always more interesting options.
«Bulat Khanov has written a modern novel of ideas where he has found a place for anarchists, feminists, Instagram and even craft beer — and not a single element seems improper or misplaced. Everything is where it should be; all the elements of true art are there. The characters proclaim their program manifestos, and the plot brings the protagonists to a real ideological and dramatic climax.»
Olga Breininger, «National Bestseller» and «Russian Booker» nominee.