Anna Berseneva, writer
A novel was published about the dramatic, ambiguous, tense everyday life of modern Berlin, a large part of the population of which are migrants, which makes this metropolis a symbol of human diversity.
Reading the novel by A. Nune (the pseudonym of the writer Nune Barseghyan) "Who should be considered the sailors" (Moscow: "New Literary Review"; 2021) makes one recall such a forgotten (and in vain!) Genre as an essay on morals. We are talking about the morals of Berlin, but since this city has long become one of the world's symbols of human diversity, the meaning of the text is not local. The phenomena that the author describes in it with virtuoso psychology are inherent not only in any metropolis, but in modern society as a whole.
The main characters of the novel are migrants. They are the very "floating" whom the Scythian sage (his words are prefaced to the book) found it difficult to relate with certainty to the living or to the dead. Most of them sailed to Europe in the literal sense of the word - the whole world remembers the epic with rubber boats heading towards the Greek islands under cover of night. True, A. Nune considers not only migrants to be “floating”, but everyone who feels the alarming instability of human existence, and first of all of their own existence. Denny's kindergarten teacher, for example, is German, and he was once brought to Berlin from a small German city not by a rubber boat, but by a severe teenage crisis, which he did not immediately, not completely and not without help, but managed to overcome. And Nastya was brought from Russia by her parents when she was a small child, and the problems of her adult life, in general, are not at all emigrant. But she also has psychological problems - unwillingness to have children, asexuality, the need for a lonely existence, despite the fact that she does not feel them as problems. That Nune Barseghyan is not only a writer, but also a psychologist is generally very noticeable in this novel. Its characteristics are professionally accurate:
“Nastya was one of those rare people who do not believe that others are guided by the same motives and feelings as theirs, attributing deviations from their line of behavior to posturing or laziness. She knew about this quality and was proud of it, although she understood that this wisdom is characteristic of people who do not belong to the majority in one area or another, and who are forced to realize that not all people feel the same with them".
And yet, it is migrants that are in the focus of the author's attention. There is no doubt A. Nune's tolerance, her ability to see difficult and, obviously, documentary life situations through the eyes of those who are going through these situations. And that is why the stories of people who ended up in Europe as refugees do not look straightforward. Of course, the author wants the reader to understand the motivation of the heroes of the novel, and copes with his task brilliantly. But does this motivation, even when understood, convince the heroes of the moral right to choose the path of life that they have chosen, does it evoke sympathy for them ... The reader is unlikely to have a definite answer.
The young Syrian Aziz, having graduated from a technical university in his homeland, “did not want to fight either for Assad or in the army of revolutionaries and did not want to shoot people at all. Aziz wanted to continue studying and decided to flee the country. After much deliberation, having read on social networks the stories of compatriots who had already emigrated by that time, about the merits and demerits of different countries, he chose Germany as the country of exodus". Aziz could not inform Germany about his merits and demerits and therefore did not give her a choice. He arrived by bus from Syria to Turkey, then swam in a rubber boat in the waters of Greece, and then, not without difficulties, but generally safely reached Berlin. Wahlheimat (“the chosen homeland”) at least had no problems with the benevolent Aziz: he eventually became a student. What can not be said about the Dagestani Ramadan, who, having incurred criminal debts in his homeland, decided to get rid of them in the most convenient way for himself: he left through Brest to Europe with his wife and young children and asked for asylum, inventing a suitable reason for such a request. His wife Madina walks around Berlin in a burqa and is unhappy that this causes wariness, steals clothes from the latest collections in shopping galleries (the one brought by numerous benefactors does not suit her) and sincerely considers the Germans to be idiots, although in general she treats them well.
Syrian professor Yousef and his wife, teacher Feruz, also have a good attitude towards Germany. True, they do not like that Berliners kiss right on the street, but they are ready to allow people to live in their country as they see fit. But the teenager Fadi, brother Feruz, is not ready to allow this. Having learned that a gay teacher works in the kindergarten where his nephew goes, he does not write indignant petitions, like the parents of other Muslim children, but simply decides to kill the wicked. The author constructs a very convincing psychological explanation of Fadi's state. It is clear that the boy is traumatized by the death of his mother under the bombing, that he is withdrawn, that he is going through puberty. But would it have been easier for the educator to understand all this if Fadi's plan had not been thwarted only by a miracle... Hardly.
This novel is not imbued with written optimism. Maybe, when the children grow up, everything that is painful, tense, dramatic that makes up the Berlin life of the "floating" now, will be grinded and there will be torment. Or maybe there will be not flour, but an explosive mixture. A. Nune also provides the reader with the need to think about it, as life provides this difficult need for humanity. Chekhov's "nobody knows the real truth" comes to mind after reading this book as the only honest maxim.