Marina, a native from Petersburg, is visiting Germany where she gives a talk on Daniil Charms and his friends. There is also a man, who studied Russian in Leningrad and with whom she had a love affair twenty years ago. The past is not over yet – and this applies to more than just to this private story. »I am afraid of time’s secrets.« An entire century – sometimes even more – unravels in front of Marina’s associations, and nowhere else has this last century been more plentiful, more fragmented by frictions/frissons in the social system than in Russia: think of the Tsar’s empire and the revolution, the Soviet Union, the World Wars, the German occupation of Leningrad, perestroika …
In her first novel, Olga Martynova, lyric poet and essayist, presents difficult situations with enchanting ease: the multiple facets of the past, the ›patina of time‹, the gliding of attitudes and opinions only literature is able to convey. We not only read of the members of the literary avant-garde surrounding Charms and Vedenskij, but also learn of hippies and rural communes in Inner Asia, of hitchhikes to Siberia and of a Buddhist monastery with a llama refusing to putrefy. Martynova’s precise eye also reveals astonishing observations of her German environment, of this audience interested in Russian cultural ties.
Even parrots survive us is a touching and astonishing novel, ignoring paradoxically what its protagonist demands, »that complicated things are better left unsaid in novels«. And what would be more complicated than the meandering of time into the past, than the associative tissue of remembrance or the poets’ handling of our remembrance?
Shortlist aspekte-Preis 2010
Longlist Deutscher Buchpreis 2010
Shortlist Leipziger Buchpreis zur Europäischen Verständigung 2011
»Olga Martynova is a Russian writer, who was born in 1962 and came to Germany in 1991. Her novel relates the stay in Germany of her main protagonist, a Russian academic who takes part in a literature festival whose purpose is to inform a German audience about the Russian literature. In connection with the love story between Marina and Andreas, a young German student of slavistics she met 20 years earlier while he was studying in Leningrad, the novel describes the collapse of the Soviet Union. The novel also examines the question of the German-Russian/Soviet relations, particularly the period of the Second world war. Above all, it is characterized by a hybrid writing that is based on an intertextual play with the works of several writers who practise a nonsense literature, especially the Oberiuts, a group of avant-garde Russian poets of the interwar period to whom Marina devotes her lecture and from whom Olga Martynova borrows several writing processes.« (Emmanuelle Aurenche-Beau, Germanica)