The Face-Maker and the Muse
Published by Glas New Russian Writing
"The novel's true hero is its language which even in translation achieves a poetic intensity and a musicality that are mesmerizing." — New York Times Book Review
"Latynin is a convincing and disquieting ethnographer but he is also a born storyteller, perfectly at home in this fragmented age." — Georges NIVAT, Magazine Litteraire (Paris)
"Leonid Latynin, a scholar and poet whose imagination is exalted and gleams with the smallest detail of past epochs." —The Moscow Times
In a city where it always rains some people have names while others have only numbers. By means of plastic surgery all are made alike, both outwardly and inwardly. The Face-maker and the Muse is an anti-utopian musing on a society where work is a giant machinery mutilating human beings, where everybody desperately tries to climb the social ladder as high as he/she can, but the success depends on the degree of the person's likeness to the Model Face, created by the Chief Face-maker. From time to time the Model is changed, overturning the entire social structure and causing terrible ordeals.
Written in 1977-78 the novel predicted as it were the Gorbachev era and the subsequent social turmoil. In a way it is a philosophical enquiry into the mental anguish of a spiritually aware person in an alien society. But above all this hovers tenderness and an unbelievable need of two human beings for each other: love is an outlet and a promise of renovation and rebirth of the human spirit after all the martyrdom of this century.
Leonid Latynin demonstrates faithfullness to high moral ideals which are not crushed by the cruel and soulless society he depicts. Humanity triumphs in the end despite terrible human loss.
Also available as an eBook here.