An Evening with Boris Akunin (in Russian), MacDougall’s Arts Ltd, 3 February

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The event consisted of Boris Akunin responding to questions from the floor, and he did so in a very  pertinent and interesting manner.

He said that he was working on a new literary project that he was not going to say anything about.  He intended to write two more Erast Fandorin novels to take the number up to 16.  He did not read novels himself, because of the contaminating effect on his own work.  He had written one children’s book when he wanted a change–he hated books for children.

There was much discussion of Russian history and politics.  BA felt that the assassination of Alexander II was the point at which catastrophe became unavoidable.  (He almost seemed to say that World War I was caused by occult influences, or perhaps historical inevitability, when nobody actually wanted it.)

As for the present, he thought that the Putin regime was authoritarian and also very weak.  He could see four possible scenarios:

i)  the regime would eliminate all opposition and Putin would become dictator;

ii)  something–a shooting at a demonstration–would lead to a mass peaceful uprising in Moscow:  a bloodless revolution.  This was bad because it could easily lead the country into chaos;

iii)  more serious suppression of a demonstration would lead to an armed uprising, probably leading back to scenario (i) by way of bloody repression;

iv)  perestroika Mk II–from below.  This was the most favourable scenario, but not as likely as he had thought earlier.

BA felt the hopeful thing was that Russia had for the first time become a country in which most people were not poor.About a quarter of the population were Net people who got their news from the Internet rather than TV.  It was a good thing that the opposition was amorphous and could not simply be decapitated.

Asked what influence Japan had exerted on him, he mentioned the importance of how as against what.  The Fandorin project had started as an attempt to show how popular literature could be done professionally.  There was a difference between literatura and belletristika;  the latter involved being polite to the reader and following well-established paths.  His new book Aristonomiya was his first attempt at literatura, and it was structured around six family photographs.

Everyone should watch the TV series of Zhizn’ i sud’ba.

The question ‘If not Putin, then who?’ was stupid.

And people went home feeling very satisfied.

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