Meet Russian horror writer Anna Starobinets

Interview with Anna Starobinets
February 27, 2014
The writing of Anna Starobinets has been compared with that of a host of literary greats, including Edgar Allan Poe and George Orwell. Yet the young Russian author is still only 33.

Her literary career was launched with a horror anthology called An Awkward Age. The title story features a little boy who was so fat and awful that he repulsed even his own mother. She finds a diary in the boy’s handwriting which reveals that a queen ant residing in his mind is laying bare her insidious plan: to capture the boy’s body and then conquer all humanity. The readers are left guessing as to whether the boy will bend to his new nature like Gregor Samsa in Kafka’s Metamorphosis.

The horror genre came natuarally to Starobinets. “I didn’t consciously choose horror fiction in the sense that I never sat at my desk musing on which genre to choose for my writing,” she explains. “Horror, mysticism, surreal thrillers and so on just seemed to be a way of packaging thoughts, feelings, sensations, and possibly even fears, that intuitively work for me.”

After An Awkward Age was published, critics labelled Starobinets the Russian Stephen King or Philip K Dick. Despite the flattering comparisons, Starobinets is not totally comfortable with this attempt at pigeon-holing : “I believe no serious writer can ever be defined by the genre he or she technically works in or even by another writer. I’m not Stephen King, Philip K Dick, Gogol or any other writer that I have been compared with.”