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SAKHALIN ISLAND (working title)

Eduard Verkin

  • Original Title: OSTROV SAHALIN
  • Publication date: January 2018
  • Publisher: EKSMO
  • Country: RU
  • 480 print pages
  • Sci-Fi/Dystopia


  • Epoch: Historical
  • Location setting: Japan
  • Themes: PEOPLE facing life, Search for the truth, Disease, Death, Moral dilemma, PEOPLE facing the extraordinary, Survival, SOCIETY DYSFUNCTIONS, Inequality, Violence, Power, War and other conflicts, LOVE / HATE, Amorous urge, CHARACTERS, Strong Female Character


In a post-apocalyptic world where Japan is the only remaining country after an atomic war, a young futurologist sets off on a scientific expedition to Sakhalin, now an isolated island surrounded by legends. While she is there, a severe earthquake unleashes a deadly virus.


Translation rights sold: France (pre-empt), Germany (auction), Lebanon (pre-empt), Bulgaria, Albania (pre-empt), Serbia, Macedonia, Czech Republic, Mongolia; Japan (offer)

Longlisted for the NOS (New Literature Award) 2018
Longlisted for the National Bestseller Award 2019

Pitched as "An exquisite poetic homage to Anton Chekhov’s SAKHALIN ISLAND travel notes, Verkin’s novel reminds of Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD and “monumental, and monumentally mad,” as the Guardian called the Strugatsky Brothers’ apocalyptic masterpiece, HARD TO BE A GOD.

Eduard Verkin is already a well-established author of children's literature - his children’s books have become bestsellers and won numerous awards. This is his first adult novel.


A homage to Anton Chekhov’s Sakhalin Island travel notes, this novel sweeps the reader into the epicentre of a world of squalor, fear, and death.

The North Korea hit first and the United States didn’t leave the strike unanswered, so nuclear war broke out. Civilization was destroyed after a few months of exchanging atomic explosions, the globe burnt down into a devastated wasteland, and those who survived the war were done in by a severe and rapidly spreading disease called MOB (a mobile form of rabies) that turns humans into living zombies within seconds.

By some miracle, Japan survived. It is the last haven of civilization, where there are scarce but still sufficient, uncontaminated food and water resources, science, industry, and even art.

The island of Sakhalin serves as a buffer zone between Japan and devastated Eurasia, which is an unthinkable hell because of the MOB-infected population. MOB-infected species can only be stopped by water – this is why Sakhalin and Japan remain uninfected.

Sakhalin is a tiny and terribly overpopulated territory, inhabited by millions of Chinese, and underprivileged Koreans and Americans who continue to pay for the sins of their fathers who unleashed the Big War. Sakhalin is the territory for nightmarish prisons and labor camps, a purgatory where human life is of no value. Corpses are more valuable than living beings – they can serve as firewood or be melted for soap. Horrible living standards and unthinkable labor conditions result in severe moral degradation, where “lynching negroes” becomes a widely spread recreation, and slavery, heavy physical and sexual abuse, or the excision of an albino child’s bodily parts are routine.

Lilac, the strikingly beautiful blue-eyed daughter of a Russian mother and a high-ranking Japanese father, is a PhD student of applied futurology science. She receives a field assignment: study current conditions in prisons and labour camps and the general social and economic situation on the island. Her professor believes that Sakhalin in its extreme critical condition may be the territory where the future is being shaped in the present. On her arrival to the island, Lilac gets a hand from a professional killer from the local privileged sect called “chained to a hook”. Artyom will accompany and protect Lilac on her journey. Their tour through the island’s hell is dangerous on its own, but one day a massive earthquake strikes. Prisons are ruined, freeing hard-core criminals craving vengeance, and the island’s population takes off for the South in a desperate attempt to reach ports and board ships for Japan. The earthquake has another consequence that is far more dangerous than hard-core criminals off the leash or millions of desperate people competing for an unlikely escape: the island is no longer separated by water from the continent, and herds of MOB-infected zombies instantly spread over Sakhalin. Lilac and her companion are on the vertiginous run from the catastrophe, bandits and death itself. And it is not only their own lives that are at stake: they are striving to save a badly damaged albino child they discovered along the way.


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  • Author’s biography

    Eduard Verkin (born in 1975) is a Russian writer. He studied history and law at the State University of Syktyvkar (the capital of Komi Republic). After graduating he taught social studies at a middle school. In 2003 he signed up for creative writing courses at the Gorky Literature Institute in Moscow. Since 2004 he has published several series of sci-fi and fantasy fiction for children, gaining recognition as Russia’s leading children’s writer today. His children’s books have become bestsellers and won numerous awards. SAKHALIN ISLAND is Eduard Verkin’s first fiction for adults.