Quick Study: Anna Starobinets is versatile: she’s a journalist, screenwriter, and fiction writer with a reputation for horror.
The Starobinets File: Anna Starobinets’s debut book, An Awkward Age, a collection containing a novella and short stories, began a career that inspires critics and publishers to compare Starobinets to such writers as Stephen King and Philip K. Dick. Starobinets’s other books include Sanctuary 3/9, a thriller loaded with primal fears and references to Russian folk tales, and The Living, a fantasy novel. The First Squad. The Moment of Truth ties in with a feature-length anime film set during World War 2. Starobinets has also written two books for children.
Psssst………: Starobinets’s other jobs have included waiting tables and working as a simultaneous interpreter in a church.
Starobinets’s Places: Moscow and various creepy parallel worlds, including the “3/9” Kingdom of Russian folktales.
The Word on Starobinets: The Web magazine Belletrista praised An Awkward Age, calling Starobinets’s style “flexible and direct, commendably unpretentious, and convincing.” Booktrust called An Awkward Age “one of the most stunning debuts to come out of Russia since Victor Pelevin: hip, funny, angry, and dark as hell.”
Starobinets on Starobinets: Starobinets identifies herself as a member of a new generation that doesn’t feel the need or want to reinterpret or reprocess the Soviet past, something she has seen as a crucial “cultural idée fixe” until recently.
On Writing: Starobinets says she wrote An Awkward Age in several months, mostly at night, when she was working as a journalist and had a new-born child; she received offers from six publishers and chose the best. She wrote Sanctuary 3/9 at night, too.
Starobinets Recommends: Starobinets’s list of influences includes Edgar Allan Poe, Nikolai Gogol, Jean-Paul Sartre, Fyodor Dostoevsky, H.G. Wells, William Golding, Franz Kafka, Chuck Palahniuk, the Strugatsky Brothers, George Orwell, and Alexander Belyaev. She has noted her respect for other predecessors and contemporaries, including Mikhail Bulgakov, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Ray Bradbury, and Stephen King; she has also named Neil Gaiman’s American Gods as a favorite book.
Photo credit: Dmitry Rozhkov, Creative Commons