Starting from the late 1980s, Western European and American literature, art and philosophy present a crescent plea for a move away from postmodernism’s purportedly radical irony. The same appeal marks contemporary Russian literature, with several writers propagating new sincere or new sentimentalist substitutes for postmodernism. This article links the Russian debate on a new sincerity to the political transition of the late 1980s. Russian writers then confronted a radically new political reality, in which a free market replaced Soviet communism. Relying on auto-comments by Timur Kibirov and Vladimir Sorokin, I propose that their allegedly strictly literarily motivated protest against postmodernism is, in fact, tightly linked to socio-economic factors, such as the need for a broad reader audience.