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Smashed in the USSR: Fear, Loathing and Vodka on the Steppes

Caroline Walton will talk about her experience of co-writing ‘Smashed in the USSR’ with Ivan Petrov, a vagrant and drunk in late Soviet times, who like Venedikt Yerofeyev was practiced in the art of mixing cocktails of glue, petrol and eau de cologne to achieve his alcoholic fix. This searing memoir is a terrifying picture of surviving on the margins of Soviet society, and the affliction of alcoholism on the nation. 

Conducted by Pushkin House directior, Clem Cecil.

Caroline Walton’s interest in Russia grew from reading Tolstoy and Dostoevsky in her teens. She studied Russian and Soviet history and politics at the LSE, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union she went to live in the Volga city of Samara. She wrote Little Tenement on the Volga about her experiences there. She has also written about creativity and survival during the siege of Leningrad (The Besieged) and, with Ivan Petrov, Smashed in the USSR- Fear, Loathing and Vodka on the Steppes. Caroline also works as a Russian to English literary translator. She lives in North London and is married to a Ukrainian.

Review of Smashed in the USSR in the Big Issue. The illustration, by Natalia Vetrova, is taken from the book.

Review of Smashed in the USSR in the Big Issue. The illustration, by Natalia Vetrova, is taken from the book.

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This talk is part of our season of events accompanying our current exhibition: 'Alcohol: Soviet anti-alcohol posters.' (23 March-13 April).