Book Review of ‘The Doomed City’ by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

‘The Doomed City’. The most ambitious — it was written for 2.5 years and already from six approaches, — and the most philosophical work of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. It was composed in 1975, and published in 1989, which indicates on its complexity. This is, if not the most difficult, then one of the most difficult of their works, as the brothers claimed, and therefore there could be no talk of financial profitability and a wide audience.

I read this novel (one of three: their brothers have only three) for a long time, slowly, strenuously and severely. Yes, this is generally the most difficult literary work of all I have read and understood. It is heavy, dirty, gloomy, viscous and, at the same time, very weird. I have not yet had to analyze, think through and puzzle out so much. The authors sprinkled a pinch of surrealism here, a bit of craziness and absurd, not forgetting about the unique style of storytelling. I admit I have never seen such a thing anywhere else. A huge amount of complicated philosophy, making the novel significant and important in terms of meaning, is heavily mixed in this outstanding work. It is not the literature work that can be read in one gulp. Here you need to read, ponder, follow a plot thread and try to read between the lines.

In the end — some words about the final part: I have not felt such detachment, doom and despondency for a long time, but how incomprehensibly and strangely this part is spelled out gives sometimes a terrifying feeling, which causes a puzzle and almost complete misunderstanding. The end looks like an ambiguous cliffhanger. It is unique and knotty.

Despite the fact that my message is quite metaphoric, I think that I will reread it in five years. And five years later too…

As a purely artistic work, its aspects of elaboration and simply  according to my feelings and impressions: 9/10

As a work of art that needs to be disassembled, analyzed and scrutinized: 10+/10

Masterpiece. Ideal food for thought, but very specific.

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