Interview with Sasha Filipenko: The Brutality of Agony

Her debut novel “The former son”, which will be released in German on March 24th, is about the past, how Belarusian President Alexandr Lukashenka turned back time, and about protest demonstrations against the presumably falsified elections in 2010. It reads today but prophetic: the hero falls into a coma like Alexej Navalnyj, Belarusian society is also in a kind of coma, from which it suddenly wakes up and protests – and then mass arrests follow, like now. Is your country’s history cyclical?

Sasha Filipenko: It is said of Russia that everything changes there within ten years, but nothing within two hundred years. This also applies to Belarus. I think it’s not difficult to predict something like this in Belarus or Russia, you just have to fix the reality, which I try to photograph through language, as it were. The two countries are like a courtyard in which the proverbial rakes are laid out, which you step on again and again and which then hit you in the face. Both the Russians and the Belarusians make the same mistakes over and over again. The fact that an earlier book remains up-to-date may be good news for the author, but a great sorrow for the citizens of the country, because what happens there should actually be impossible in 2021.

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