Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Sasha Sokolov Collection
Dates: ca. 1975-1991
Collection number: Mss 117
Sokolov, Sasha, 1943-
3.6 linear feet
(9 document boxes and 13 audiocassettes)
University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Dept. of Special Collections
Abstract: Collection contains biographical and bibliographical information, writings, interviews, speeches, lectures, photographs, and
tapes relating to the writer Sasha Sokolov.
Physical location: Del Sur.
Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or
quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given
on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply
permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.
[Item description, folder title, box number]. Sasha Sokolov Collection. Mss 117. Department of Special Collections, Davidson
Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.
Donation from multiple sources, including Sasha Sokolov, Ardis, Donald B. Johnson, and others, 1986-early 1990s.
Aleksandr Vsevolodovich Sokolov, émigré novelist, poet, and essayist, was born in Ottawa, Canada in 1943. Both parents were,
inter alia, intelligence agents at the war-time Soviet embassy there. Exposed after the war, they returned to Moscow where
the father became a senior figure in military intelligence circles. Sasha spent a troubled youth. At one time his parents
considered placing him in a special school for disturbed adolescents. Nonetheless, he succeeded in entering the Military Institute
for Foreign Languages in 1962. Detesting military life, he and a friend attempted to cross the Turmen-Iranian border while
AWOL. The authorities apparently failed to realize that he was defecting and merely sentenced him for being absent without
leave. Feigning madness to gain a discharge, he spent three months in a mental hospital. Discharged from the hospital and
the army in early 1965, Sokolov became a fringe member of Moscow's flourishing literary bohemia, particularly the avant-garde
group SMOG (the acronymic Society of Youngest Geniuses). In 1966 the aspiring writer entered the Journalism School of Moscow
State University and soon began to publish stories and articles. He also married a fellow student, Taisiia Suvorova. Bored
with school, he took a job with a newspaper in the remote middle Volga area. Returning to Moscow in 1969 he worked for
Literaturnaia Rossiia, the prestigious paper of the Russian branch of the Writer's Union.
Meanwhile his stories were attracting attention and he decided to settle in a remote area and write. Sokolov soon found a
sinecure as a game warden on a hunting preserve. He spent most of 1972-73 there among the rough hunting and fishing folk who
populated the area. It was here that he completed his first novel, the experimental
School for Fools in which a schizophrenic adolescent depicts his world. Knowing the novel could not be published in the Soviet Union, he arranged
for it to be smuggled out by an Austrian girl. Sokolov wished to emigrate and marriage to a foreign national was one of the
few ways to make this possible. This plan met with numerous official obstacles until the lovers staged simultaneous hunger
strikes in the town squares of Moscow and Vienna, eventually attracting world press coverage. Sokolov's desire to emigrate
had become even stronger since he had learned that
A School for Fools had been accepted by Ardis Publishers, a small press founded by Carl and Ellendea Proffer in Ann Arbor Michigan for the promotion
of Russian literature.
Sokolov arrived in Vienna in October 1975. The marriage was short-lived and Sokolov, who was soon to establish his right to
Canadian citizenship, emigrated to the U.S., partially to promote his novella which appeared first in Russian and then English
(1977) to impressive reviews. He continued work on a new book,
Between Dog and Wolf (1980), a phantasmagoric murder mystery set in the deep provinces of the Volga.
Sokolov sees himself as a wanderer and has constantly moved from place to place about the U.S. and Canada although he has
a marked fondness for northern Vermont and adjacent Canada, the region in which he completed his satiric third novel,
Palisandriia (1985), known in English as
Astrophobia (1989). Sokolov spent much of 1988 in Greece before returning to glasnost Russia where he was lionized during a year-long
visit. Seeking a quiet atmosphere, the increasingly reclusive writer returned to Canada, spending time in Newfoundland, as
well as Vermont.
All three of his novels have now been published in Russia, as well as an essay collection entitled
Vozhidanii Nobelia ili obshchaya tetrad' [
Waiting for the Nobel, or a Common Notebook (1993)]. Critical study of his work, once limited to the West, now flourishes in the writer's homeland. In 1996, Sokolov
was awarded the prestigious Pushkin Prize for his contributions to literature.
Biography by D. Barton Johnson, October 29, 1997
Scope and Content of Collection
The collection contains the following series:
Biographical/Bibliographical Files. Includes articles and essays about Sokolov, bibliographies and lists of writings, and documents dealing mainly with his emigration
from Russia and subsequent residence and visa issues, ca. 1975-1984.
Ardis (Sokolov's publisher). Includes correspondence and financial documents by and relating to Sokolov and his publisher, ca.
Writings by Sokolov
Monographs, including corrected typescript drafts and proofs for
Shkola dl’a durakov (
School for Fools),
Mezhdu sobakoi i volkom (
Between Dog and Wolf), and
Essays and Articles, ca. 1971-1991.
Newspaper Articles, in
Literaturnaya Rossia, ca. 1969-1971.
Poems, appearing in
Kovcheg Literature Journal (Paris).
Published Interviews with Sokolov, ca. 1981-1985.
Speeches/Lectures by Sokolov.
Photographs and Drawings of Sokolov, including a small number of b/w prints.
Miscellany, including copy of "Balada o tret'em semestre," notes and clippings re Sokolov and Ardis, and reviews and essays on other
contemporary Russian authors.
Tapes. Includes interviews of Sokolov, by Donald Barton Johnson.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Sokolov, Sasha, 1943-
Authors, Russian -- Canada.
Authors, Russian -- United States.
Authors, Russian -- 20th century.
The Department of Special Collections has first editions and translations in several languages, of Sokolov's work, as well
as Ardis publications, all of which are cataloged separately. Titles can be searched on Pegasus (the UCSB online catalog),
Melvyl (the University of California online catalog), as well as OCLC and RLIN.