Magazine article New Internationalist

The Naked Pioneer Girl

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Naked Pioneer Girl

Article excerpt

[Graph Not Transcribed]

by Mikhail Kononov

translated by Andrew Bromfield

(Serpent's Tail, ISBN 1 85242 835 X)

On a desolate battlefield, 15-year-old Midge, a Soviet Pioneer, plods to her execution whistling a jaunty tune. The siege of Leningrad is at its height and Midge, having wangled her way into the army, is less afraid of death than she is of being thrown out of her unit. She feels that she fulfils a vital role in the Collective: in the words of her commander, she is 'the faithful little wife of the regiment' and night after night the men queue up to experience the affection she dispenses indiscriminately.

Much to her surprise, Midge is not executed but instead is made a Hero of the Soviet Union. It emerges that she experiences 'strategic dreams' in which, in the form of a seagull, she takes to the air. …

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