2. Writer Daria Wilke’s new book, The Jester’s Cap features one gay teen who struggles to find acceptance in his own country.
The plot focuses on a teenage boy named Grisha, who lives in a puppet theater with an older boy, Sam, who is gay. Wilke said, “When I started to write and realized that there would be a homosexuality theme, I was a little scared, because there was no such book written in Russian.”
3. In an interview with The Atlantic, Wilke touched upon her controversial book’s plot:
The puppet theater where this takes place is a sort of safe space for the protagonist — in the theater, he can be himself. The gay actors there can say they’re gay. The book starts with the fact that the protagonist’s best friend and mentor, Sam, the most talented actor in the theater, must leave to go to Holland — it’s too hard for him to live in Russia because he’s gay.
From there, the main character, Grisha, must decide whether to follow societal stereotypes or to be himself. Other than his parents, he has his granddad, who is quite totalitarian and homophobic. The grandfather is disgusted by Sam. Grisha must decide whether he wants to be free or to follow the stringent societal rules that adults have set for him. It’s about the dichotomy of the free world within the theater walls and the less-free one outside of them.
4. Although local book stores have not resisted putting the young adult novel on their shelves, many are putting “18+” stickers on the cover.
5. When asked if the Russian government had reacted to her novel, Wilke stated:
I haven’t had any bad reactions from the government, but then again, the book has only been out for a month. Young-adult novels aren’t really the first order of things that the government scrutinizes.