Кан Александр родился в 1960 году в Пхеньяне (КНДР). Окончил Московский институт электронной техники и Литературный институт им. Горького, семинар прозы. Автор 10 книг, победитель международных литературных конкурсов. Поскольку Александр почти 30 лет занимается литературой, он любит (и вынужден) заниматься спортом.
The Russian fiction-writer of Korean origin Alexander Kan was born in Pyongyang (North Korea) in 1960. In 1961 after political repressions his incomplete family removed to Soviet Union: to Leningrad, then to Alma-Ata. In 1977 he graduated from the State Physics and Mathematics School in Alma-Ata (Kazakhstan) and enrolled at the Moscow Institute of Electronic Technology, majoring in physics. During studies he worked as a gravedigger, a night-watchman, a loader, a physics teacher, a stagehand, a waiter, a long-distance train operator.
In 1984 after graduating he returned to Alma-Ata and began writing poems and stories, which were started to publish since 1985. In 1988 he enrolled at the Moscow Literary Institute named after Gorky, majoring in prose, which graduated from in 1993.
His novels, poems, esseys were published in the russian and international newspapers and literary magazines and in numerous collection books. Some of his novels and esseys were translated into English, German, Swedish and Korean.
To present moment he has published 10 collections of fiction and non-fiction.
Эссе “THE WAY, OR THE HISTORY OF ONE CURVE”
Of course, choosing a line of conduct,
we choose between one fantasy and another,
but we do not have a choice,
to imagine or not to imagine.
Man is doomed to be a novelist.
– Jose Ortega y Gasset
From time to time I ask my quite old mother to recall some more details about that place where they took me immediately after birth. I know that it was a two-room apartment on the fifth floor of a recently constructed building, in the very center of Pyongyang on the shore of the Taedong River, to which I was taken out in a carriage on walks for fresh air. I ask her…but all of my requests remain futile—either mother doesn’t want to, or she can’t remember—and nothing remains for me, how to present, conjure, visualize to myself through the turbid thickness of years curves, bends and lines that are native to me, meaning a landscape that, it would turn out, I in principle could not remember.
And none the less, closing my eyes, I see the Taedong River, in all of its deep perspectives, its smooth level current, and even seagulls rushing about over the silver surface of the water, but then with the turn of the head—father along the shorefront, in a gray tunic, three steps from me, squatting down and stretching to me his hand, toward which I direct my first steps. In this, my first step, the happy images break off, like an old, lost and tattered film reel, and opening my eyes, I again, once more, remember that all of this landscape, this plot, I merely contrived to myself, that my inner perspective holds nothing but deception, subterfuge, the momentary luxury of pseudo-clairvoyance, perhaps as an eternal protest against all that is tangible, visible, immutable, all to which—by my will or not—I should abide.
Yet as long as this bright vision again and again returns to me, then I, a faster visionary and mystic than materialist and positivist, in the end conclude that this reflection, flash, fragment, this is my paradise, absolutely not lost for me, but always found, residing in me and with me; now I am here, and the linear flow of external life only demonstrates its immutability, or the immutability of my ability to summon this paradise.
The World and the Word
But of course I learned this ability not immediately, and in the beginning there were no Words or Visions—I speak now only about my sensation of life—but just one silent emptiness, about which I wrote about several times in my essays, stories and plays, when they carried me as a one-year-old to Alma-Ata—an emptiness which lasted probably a few years at least—my memory doesn’t know anything about those silent and invisible years. And only afterwards, before I had reached five years—it was an early winter morning—a bright light suddenly blinded me, as if someone had opened a thick curtain, and I saw a room, and the bright lamp under the ceiling: mother prepares me for kindergarten for the first time, putting on my boots last, and we walk to the exit, wind in the face, the long journey through dirty hardened snow, to a two-story building that was gray in the gloaming: we head inside and mother gives me over from her hand to the hands of a rude, loud-voiced nanny, who roughly plucks from me all that my mother had diligently clothed me in. Then the expansive room with noises, slovenly unsightly children, and I, instead of joining with them, walk stubbornly, despite the nannies’ cries, to the window: to see, glance through the gloaming—to seize by my eyes my mother, who, as it seemed then, had betrayed me, leaving me here in this rude, horrible, institutional place…I knowingly and in full detail depict now this shrill—neophyte!—feeling of injustice, known, perhaps, to each Soviet person, namely because from this precipice, fracture, fright, even shock began that otherworldly—in my soul, at least—life, suddenly declaring to you that your paradise or image of paradise is traitorous destruction.
And so, all the still memorable Soviet institutions: kindergarten, school, university, work by assignment—you walk bitterly and rigidly by the canvas of what public society determines, and through some kind of moments stolen from this society, you instantly understand that Words in your life as you knew them before are no more. But there is just one absolutely uncomplicated introspection, a mechanical motion and memorized wording, actions which you present to the world, only so that it, useless and indifferent, will leave you in peace next time. And you, of course, suffer, but then what can you do but move again—you learn, work, socialize, seeing what is around you and nothing within…In the end you arrive at despair, called forth by precisely that shrill, screaming discrepancy, and you even see how others also begin to rebel—let this life slip through, run from its classes, be a hooligan, live off of others, behave disgracefully—understanding that nevertheless you are not alone, so rough, nervous and inarticulate, and if you long for that which does not exist, then maybe it will be worthwhile for you to track down that very nothingness, moving along those earthly circles which are sometimes worse than those of hell. That is: deceive, sin, live in dissolution, like others, and in the end and through the most unexpected figure, these circles push you out not to some place, but for some reason just to the writing table, behind which you begin to write on clean pieces of paper some kind of secret characters, and perhaps denunciations—for now unclear to whom, to another world on another planet?—filled with furious indignation again those wintertime situations in which you once found yourself.
* * *