“Every time when I recall that the Lord is fair, I tremble for my country.” M.M. Zhvanetsky.

Nowadays only few artists master the skill of talking allegorically. So that to be profound and amusing at the same time. However Michael Zhvanetskiy manages to be even humorous. You laugh, and simultaneously can’t but think over the sense of the joke.

M.M. Zhvanetsky  is a person of unique talents and tremendous mind.  A thinker, a philosopher, a satirist, a  writer, a Jew. Zhvanetsky is one of the few representatives left of so-called artistic Russian-speaking elite; and is well-known by his lively satiric prose. His works are full of deep feelings towards the society he is addressing; his words are energetic and precisely targeted. Talking in simple language about complicates things, he skillfully penetrates into the readers’ hears.

Mikhail was born in the FSU in a vivacious and characteristic Jewish shtetl Odessa, which is in Ukraine. His life wasn’t apparently easy: Mikhail happened to overcome the Second World War, the famine, anti-Semitism… His parents Emmanuil Moiseevich and Raisa Jakovlevna were doctors. In his interviews  Zhvanetsky describes the terror they were living under during that period of life.

However listening to him,  you won’t hear a word of complaining. Probably because of his simple and at the same time deeply philosophical approach to life.

“Optimists believe that we are living in the best of the existing worlds. Pessimists are afraid that it is indeed so.”

He is an “Odessit”, while it is a very specific kind of a Jew. Jewishness is his essence, the inseparable part of himself.  The reflection is the way he thinks. You can’t probably distinct and define his type of character if you have never met typical Jews from fabulous Odessa. “Humor through tears” is a specific trait of them.

His Jewish ego doesn’t need to be defined by some religious affiliation, or whatever. His Jewishness is something very explicit for those who have a clue what I am talking about. That is why he neither underlines it, nor conceals, but always very natural and free mentioning his roots. He is deeply interested in everything which is going on in the Jewish world, although the main theme of his works is the society he lives, which means Russian elite: writers, theater, musical and other art doers; and also oligarchs, politicians and the so-called “world of glamour”.

Zhvanetsky is a doer. From 1996 he is a  member of The Russian Jewish congress . This initiative group consists of influential Jewish businessmen, active people of different Jewish organizations and authoritative religious figures.

The global aim of the union is  to support the revival of Jewish life in Russia. It became a sort of umbrella organization and united all the philanthropists, intellectuals and spiritual leaders, Jewish professionals and volunteers. The leaders do not speak a lot, they do:  organize charitable programs, looking for grants and sponsor the restoration of Jewish memorials, struggle against international terrorism and many more.

As each good Jewish writer, Zhvanetsky  is observing and analyzing ; the surface is not something he  is interested in. He is a psychologist, the critic of his time.  As I don’t want to base on my bare word, I would like to present you with a short, but strong and characterizing work of his, which to my mind reflects and explains the nature and the concerns of charismatic  cultural leader. It is called “Lost Generation”.


“We have already got used to the fact that  some distinct people disappear in our country. However we lost the whole generation all of a sudden. They disappeared. And we keep on pretending that nothing at all has happened…

We build our careers,  our advertisement on young woman bodies having lost  millions of bright grey-haired heads.

Why?! How come, these girls are not frightened? It is their future which hides from the looks of passers-by. The destiny enough challenged those women.

Wild queues, ignorant abortions, tight boots and burnt mittens.

And now they are jostled by glossy buttocks, chinaware thighs, and artificial glass eyes.

The young body whispers in italic: “AM I not WORTH IT?” You do. But we don’t. We deserve the best.

The dream world is filled with disposable women who are being changed, as syringes.

Silicone breasts, pumped up lips, fake eyes. All this trivial-virtual sexual excitation, can be born a visit to the doctor only.

Can you imagine the rhymes born from such a “love”? ..

They are being yelled in hospitals: “Who are YOU? A doctor? ”. ” I am not the doctor. But I struggle for the life of my husband. Nobody else in this country will do it  “, – she answers silently.

THEY,  these women keep for us our geniuses. Having lost them we will loose our husbands, the people of concrete result. Then will be left just some crackling and meaningless politicians and some oligarchs, whose private life provokes  interest in nobody.

Certainly, during the singular and short period of television sexual excitation we forgive all to those charming buttocks, light-minded heads and  tights…

However these disappeared women generate kings and commanders. They are the second row in the political circles. While the second row in politics is the main one. They rate humour, works of art, architecture and all treasures of the world …

This summer at one of the charity concerts I saw them. I saw the tribe which has disappeared in Russia, the tribe of elderly ladies: slender, beautiful, in their light fur coats and thin shoes; and their men, a little bit older.  It was a crowd  of 60, 65, 70, 80, 85-years-old people. They were laughing and applauding, they danced and played cards. They filled up a huge hall with a sliding roof.

They were neither oligarchs, nor ministers, and not even kings. They were the women who made the national emblem of France.

It is very simple to define the talent. You are looking on, what woman is near HIM. Near Pushkin, near Vysotsky, near Yesenin. Then think of the women who were near Brezhnev, near Khruschev, near Stalin. There was no one! They had everything, but not them (the women). That’s why I am saying : YOU CAN BE JUDGED BY THE WOMAN WHO IS NEAR YOU!

From the wives one needs to choose the cheerful ones

From cheerful – clever.

From clever – tender.

From tender – truthful.

And patient.

And patient! ”