Yevgeny Popov, best known as a short-story writer and master of parody, was born in 1946 in the Siberian town of Krasnoyarsk, immortalized in his work as ‘the town of K. on the banks of the river E.’. In the 1960s he studied geology in Moscow, and in 1968, having unsuccessfully applied to the Gorky Institute of Literature and the Institute of Cinematography, he returned to Siberia to work as a geologist. In 1975, he abandoned this first career, moved back to Moscow for good, and thenceforth devoted himself to literature, earning his living with a series of hack jobs.
From the early 1960s Popov had been writing, occasionally publishing his stories in local newspapers and journals. But his real début came in 1976, when Novy mir published two of his stories (‘I Await a Love that’s True’ and ‘The Drummer and his Drummer-Wife’), with a foreword by the writer Vasily Shukshin. These stories won him immediate popularity and admission, as a promising new name, to the Union of Writers.
His status as an ‘official writer’ was to be short-lived, however. In 1979 he was one of two young writers (the other being Viktor Yerofeyev) to contribute to the unofficial almanac Metropol′, an act which promptly earned him expulsion from the Union and exile to Moscow’s literary underground. In 1981 a collection of his stories, MerryMaking in Old Russia (Veseliye Rusi) was published by Ardis in the United States. But it was not until 1989 that Popov began once more to be published in Russia.
By that time he had accumulated some 200 stories, selections of which were published in I Await a Love that’s True (1989) and Aeroplane to Cologne (1991), and two longer works, The Soul of a Patriot (dated 1982, published 1990) and The Splendour of Life (dated 1985, published 1990). The publication of this large ‘backlog’, together with a steady flow of new writing, has made Popov one of the most visible and popular writers of the 1990s. Subsequent works, such as The ‘Beryozka’ Restaurant (1991) and On the Eve of On the Eve (1993), show his imagination energetically at work on the absurdities and incongruities of life in more recent times, and he