Brent Ghelfi is the author of Volk’s Game and, releasing early in July, the sequel, Volk’s Shadow.
For The Rap Sheet, David Thayer put a few questions to the author, including:
DT: I read somewhere that your main character, Alexei Volkovoy, got his name from One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1963). The character of Volkovoi in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s novel was a prison guard. Do you see Volk as a prisoner of the New Russia?Read the entire Q & A.
BG: I think of the prison guard in Solzhenitsyn’s story as a metaphor for Stalinist Russia: cruel, hard-bitten, [and] wasteful of Russia’s most precious asset, her people. I see Volk as less a prisoner and more a representative of the new Russia: conflicted about the past, damaged by war, crime, and corruption. Two decades on the crack pipe of political and economic transformation have left their mark on Russia, and Volk is both a product of his environment and, like millions of other ordinary Russians, one of the architects of it.
DT: Valya is my favorite among Volk’s Game’s secondary characters. Is she a permanent fixture in your evolving series?
BG: I fell in love with Valya from the first line I wrote about her. Her background as a Chechen refugee opens any number of windows into Russia’s southern wars and its troubled history in the Caucasus (a few of which we peer through in the follow-up book, Volk’s Shadow). The more I explored Volk’s relationship with Valya, the more I realized that he couldn’t be one of those characters who hop from one bed to another. She’s his lover, guardian angel, and moral compass, and he’s bonded to her.
Visit the Volk's Shadow website and the Volk's Game website.
Volk's Game was recently nominated for a Barry Award and the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel.
Volk's Shadow is set for release on July 8.
The Page 69 Test: Volk's Game.
My Book, The Movie: Volk’s Game.