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Stories on the Skin

Author: Nicolai Lilin
ISBN: 9788806214142
Original Region: Italy
Original Language: Italian
Publication Date: 2012
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Aided by the photographs and drawings that accompany the stories, Nicolai Lilin ventures
into a territory that has never before been explored and shows us the world of Siberian
tattoos with the powerful and merciless language that has made him famous.
«There wasn’t one tattoo the same as another. The main subjects appeared over and over
again, but the details changed. After a while I understood that the secret must be in the
details and that’s when I started to analyze them: it was like trying to learn a foreign language
without having anyone to teach you.»
Nicolai Lilin, in Siberian Education – which will soon come out in the film version directed by
Gabriele Salvatores, with John Malkovich – told the story of how tattoos were a labyrinth of
symbols through which it was possible to communicate secret information that was destined
to remain hidden within the confines of the criminal community. There was a time when
«honest criminals» had themselves tattooed by the hand of the kolshik, a man who was wiser
than the others, a sort of priest to whom one confessed one’s life so that he could translate
it into a secret cipher. And so, the bodies, in the end, told stories: stories you were destined
to wear for the rest of your days.
In this new book by Nicolai Lilin, the narrative voice of the young Kolima accompanies us
on a journey of discovery through the long-vanished and forgotten universe of old Siberian
criminals, telling the tales of the adventures of a boy trying to pierce the mysteries of the
traditional tattoos and exploring the rigid and enigmatic rules of that world. At the very
moment of the dramatic break between the world of the old ones and the world of the young,
against the chaotic and violent backdrop of the great transformation that swept through the
outlying areas of the Soviet confederation after the fall of the Berlin Wall, in the twilight
of the great empire.
Nicolai Lilin was born in 1980 in Bender, Transnistria. He has lived in Italy since 2003. With
Einaudi he has published the novels Educazione siberiana (Siberian Education, «Supercoralli»
2009), which has been translated into twenty-three different languages, Caduta libera (Free
Fall, «Supercoralli», 2010 and «Super ET», 2011) and Il respiro del buio («Supercoralli»,
2011). Siberian Education is also a film by Gabriele Salvatores, coming out in 2012
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