Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Sasha Aleksandr Vsevolodovich Sokolov (SUH-kohl-uhv) was the most critically acclaimed writer to appear on the Russian literary scene during the 1970’s and 1980’s. He was born in Ottawa, Canada, where his father was a Soviet military diplomat until forced to return to Moscow following an espionage scandal. There the young Sokolov drifted through an unsatisfactory career in the public schools before, in 1962, entering the Military Institute of Foreign Languages. Army life was not to his liking, and he ended first in jail for being absent without leave and then in a mental hospital as part of a ploy to gain his military discharge.
After a period living on the fringes of Moscow’s literary bohemia, Sokolov entered the journalism department at Moscow State University. Upon completing an internship on a provincial newspaper, he returned to the capital, where he worked for Literary Russia. When he received his university degree in 1971, Sokolov left Moscow for a job as a gamekeeper on the remote upper Volga. Here, over a two-year period, he completed A School for Fools, a modernist tour de force that then had little chance of appearing in the Soviet Union. Smuggled abroad with the help of an Austrian friend whom Sokolov subsequently married, the novella appeared in the United States in 1976. Growing out of Sokolov’s youthful encounters with Soviet institutions and the sheer dreariness and duplicity of Soviet life, the work depicts that...
(The entire section is 1037 words.)
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