by: Alexander Grigorenko
Mebet concerns a man of the taiga, a hunter, in a moving narrative that blends ethnographic detail, indigenous mythology, and the snowy landscapes of the Arctic. The protagonist is a Nenets, a member of one of the peoples who call far northern Russia home. Dubbed “The Gods’ Favorite” for his seeming imperviousness to harm or grief, Mebet earns the envy and derision of his fellow tribesmen. He lives that carefree and blessed life until his old age, when one day a supernatural messenger arrives to lead him to where the realms of the living and the dead meet. Now the Gods’ Favorite must confront the price to be paid for his elevated position, and a series of dread trials that lie in store.
Called a dark and terrifying fantasy and the Nenets Lord of the Rings by Russian writer and journalist Sergey Kuznetsov, Grigorenko’s Mebet is a powerful story about humanity, personal fate, and responsibility. Leading Russian literary critic Galina Yuzefovich welcomed Mebet as a true epic for the Nenets, a book that is profound, thrilling and vibrant. Whether the book will earn that lofty place within Nenets culture remains to be seen, but the very publication of the book marks a watershed event.
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