Sin: The Russia You Never Knew

April 24, 2012 9:17 am

Book Review by: Damira Davletyarova 

Zahar Prilepin’s  book Sin is a collection of short stories written in non-chronological order. Yet, by the end, they merge into a full complex picture, giving the novel its unique form. The main character of the stories is Zahar, who incidentally, has the same name as the author. Zahar lives in the post-Soviet Russia – in a broken country, one involved in the war with Chechnya and struggling to keep its unity. People are impoverished, unemployed and angry.

Amid chaos, instead of complaining or joining criminals, Zahar keeps his human dignity and integrity. He enjoys what he has and life as it is. He loves and is being loved. For Zahar, under the veil of male toughness and physical strength, there is also a caring and tender heart.

SIN. Photo from Amazon

Sin builds Zahar’s compassion right from the beginning. In the first chapter, for instance, Zahar takes out the last remaining egg, some milk from the empty fridge, finds flour in the kitchen cabinet and makes pancakes in order to feed four abandoned puppies that live outside of his apartment.

In the various stories throughout the book, readers will journey with Zahar from his childhood to his eventual adulthood, which helps to both shape the character and endear him  to his readers. In the last story, however, Prilepin’s character is unable to escape grim reality, and sadly he embarks on a journey as a soldier in the Chechen war.

The book has shaken the Russian literary world with a bold and honest description of post-communist Russia’s past, becoming a national bestseller. Sin, has already earned multiple literary awards. This April, Canadians will be able to discover the Russia that they never knew existed.

Prilepin is a renowned Russian author, a publisher, a journalist and a political activist. In the past, he served as a soldier in the Russian Special Forces in the anti-terror campaign in Chechnya. Prilepin is happily married and a father of three sons. He lives in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.

Sin is now available on Amazon; the Russian version of the book can be ordered from the author’s website  at zaharprilepin.r

A True Story of Marriage Fraud and Justice Found

April 6, 2012 8:35 am
Screen shot 2012-04-05 at 11.40.28 PM

Lainie Towell’s new book How to Catch an African Chicken – A Canadian Woman’s Outrageous but True Story of Marriage Fraud could be making history. Towell’s ordeal prompted Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to get cracking with new marriage fraud laws.

The story begins in 2004, when Ottawa dance artist Lainie Towell traveled to Guinea West Africa and fell in love twice. First with the country’s dance, and then with a Guinean drummer named Fodé Mohamed “Akra” Soumah. After several trips to Conakry, a few bouts of malaria, countless hours apprenticing in an African ballet, and some visits to a witch doctor, Towell and Akra got married. She then sponsored him to come to Canada. Twenty-nine days after he arrived in Canada, Akra disappeared. It seemed he had gotten what he wanted from the marriage – his Canadian permanent residency status.

Lainie Towell

Refusing to remain a victim, Towell took matters into her own hands. She launched what would become an international media campaign and exposed her broken heart – along with Canada’s lax immigration laws – to the public. When a Canadian Border Services Agency enforcement officer saw her story in the news and launched an investigation, Towell discovered first-hand that one woman’s courage and tenacity can help change the system.

Towell’s book reveals the painful human story behind immigration marriage fraud. It has been suggested that Towell’s efforts to bring attention to the issue may have contributed to tighter laws currently being introduced in Parliament by Minister Kenney. The proposed changes would require spouses to live with their sponsor for two years after receipt of their permanent residence status. Failure to do so could result in losing that status, and possible removal from Canada.

How to Catch an African Chicken is now available electronically on Amazon for Kindle, and at Smashwords in several popular e-book reading formats including for IPad, Kobo, Sony, Nook, PC’s and most e-reading apps.

Visit for links to where you can buy the book.

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