Sasha "Sankya" Tishin, and his friends are part of a generation stuck between eras. They don't remember the Soviet Union, but they also don't believe in the promise of opportunity for all in the corrupt, capitalistic new Russia. They belong to an extremist group that wants to build a better Russia by tearing down the existing one. Sasha, alternately thoughtful and naïve, violent and tender, dispassionate and romantic, hopeful and hopeless, is torn between the dying village of his youth and the soulless capital, where he and his friends stage rowdy protests and do battle with the police. When they go too far, Sasha finds himself testing the elemental force of the protest movement in Russia and in himself.
Prilepin's combination of lucid prose and social consciousness has made him one of the most popular and acclaimed writers in Russia today and drawn comparisons with the Russian classics. His novel Sankya, which draws on his own experiences to depict life among young political extremists, was shortlisted for the Russian Booker in 2007, when it also won the Yasnaya Polyana Award and the Best Foreign Novel of the Year Award in China. Prilepin's works have been translated into numerous foreign languages; regrettably, English-speaking readers have as yet had to content themselves with a handful of short stories.