(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

The Seven Days of Creation chronicles the anguished searching of three generations of the Lashkov family for the meaning of human suffering. In six chapters, each representing a weekday preceding Sunday, the author portrays the increasing cynicism and growing alienation of this Russian family and the subsequent attempts of its members to attain a rewarding life and to rejoin the human family safely and hopefully.

In the course of the novel, the characters travel across Russia literally and spiritually, seeking more redeeming relationships. Specific incidents prompt dreams and flashbacks. The activities and interactions of family members elicit varying responses, some empathic and others accusative.

One July dawn, the intractable Pyotor Lashkov awakens to the bitter realization that he has alienated himself from his family and friends. Sensitive, however, to his middle-aged daughter’s drunken despondency, he resolves to renew human ties. When he seeks to pay respects to the family of a deceased acquaintance, he mistakenly visits a home in which religious services are being held. This encounter foreshadows the eventual conversion of the elderly atheist.

When his bewildered grandson, Vadim, visits, Pyotor advises the despairing young man to find solace with Pyotor’s brother Andrei, a warden in the Kurakin forest. In a flashback, Pyotor recalls his own disturbing visit with the shell-shocked Andrei, before Andrei became a warden. Yearning to revive family attachments, Pyotor seeks out his brother Vasilii in Moscow, whom he has not seen for more than forty years. The brothers are so ill at ease that when Vasilii goes out to buy more liquor, Pyotor hastens away,repulsed by the stench and premature decay in the room.

The first chapter, “Monday: A Traveler in Search of Himself,” relates several other attempts to amend...

(The entire section is 770 words.)