HAYMARKET SQUARE is a novel in verse and a re-telling of Alfred Doblin‘s monumental “Berlin Alexanderplatz“, re-set in post Soviet Russia by author John Kolchak. The book is illustrated by artist Scott Corkern.
This novel, written entirely in verse (and mostly in rhymed meter), concerns the fate of Alex Bobrov: a petty criminal and former pimp who was imprisoned for ‘accidentally’ murdering one of his tricks. Having served out his entire sentence without witnessing the collapse of the USSR and the subsequent radical transformation of society in the fledgling Russian Federation, Alex desperately seeks to fit in this new world he exited out onto.
At first pledging to himself to become a truly ‘honest man’, Alex’s dreams and attempts to acclimate and assimilate to his new reality are repeatedly shattered when fate keeps biting him in the rear, over and over again.
Eventually, Alex falls in with his former criminal associates, who have now grown wealthy and skilled in the tricks that “Weimar Russia” of the mid 1990s afforded them.
While at first Alex accepts the return to his criminal past, when love enters the picture it sets the wheels in motion for Alex to pay for his past crimes in a way he had never imagined.
Sordid, vulgar, colloquial but at above all honest and true to Doblin’s original mix of sociological observation and Dostoyevskian psychology, HAYMARKET SQUARE is both a lyrical panorama of the tremulous post-Soviet times and a first person perspective into that area in history through the eyes of a marginal yet unforgettable character.
There is an apocryphal statement attributed to Stalin: “The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.”
HAYMARKET SQUARE is a human face ripped out, warts and all, both from the ledger of the police station and the big book resting on a podium at the entrance to the Pearly Gates.