TIMID NIKAS, THE COMBER OF LIONS' MANES
(A brief synopsis)
This is a mythologised autobiography. An experienced man looks back at his boyhood through a Magic Crystal, which transforms the past into the present and reveals a bizarre world like all the Magic worlds have been from time immemorial.
The people dear to the protagonist's heart that passed away a long time ago are given a new life; grandfathers become young, fathers who were killed on battlefields in foreign countries rise from the dead and say, “Hi, guys!” We, the greying men and women, become naughty boys and young girls, whose small mounds of breasts are revealed beneath their cotton print dresses. We have not yet drowned, we have not yet perished in concentration camps, we have not yet lost our hands in mine explosions, we have not yet died in large numbers, we have not yet started to eat mouldy army biscuits because we starve. WE ARE ALIVE AND KICKING, ALL THE NAUGHTY BOYS AND GIRLS, IT IS THE FIRST TIME WE'VE FALLEN IN LOVE, THE FIRST TIME WE'VE FELT JEALOUS… AND WE'VE GOT A LOT OF FIRST EXPERIENCES AND CHALLENGES AHEAD OF US…
The opening of the novel, however, takes us back thousands of years:
A TIME TO DIE AND A TIME TO BE BORN (the first part of the novel)
A time to die (Ecclesiastes): Nikas died in the first century AD. As a Christian he was thrown to the lions when the Nazarenes were active …
A time to be born (Ecclesiastes): and he was born in the 1930s. His birth cry resembled his death cry, although it was longer and more optimistic.
The newly-born, who is named Nikas , grows and matures. At this existential pitch our story begins, it develops in the space of the 400 pages of the novel and ends dramatically, shockingly. But it never loses its positive outlook on life.
The author has written a 10-part screenplay based on the novel .
Nikolai Baturin's recent novel is outstanding in many ways: it has depth and scope as well as length. The black-and-white and-red illustrations made by the author himself are worth a study in themselves (from a review)