I’ve been hoarding Russian literary news for today, knowing I’d be in the middle of Mikhail Gigolashvili’s 800-page Чертово колесо (The Devil’s Wheel). I admit: despite positive reviews and liking the first chapters I’d read (in PDF) on the Ad Marginem site, I’d had doubts about spending so many pages and days reading about drug addicts in Tbilisi. But The Devil’s Wheel is a great antidote to Kliuev’s Something Else for You (previous post) and Pavlov’s Asystole (previous post). Gigolashvili can tell a story, and he’s unsparing in his depiction of the perestroika era. The Devil’s Wheel is graphic, brutal, sensitive, funny, and impossible to put down. And now the news…
Liudmila Petrushevskaya’s There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales, translated by Keith Gessen and Anna Summers, was nominated for a World Fantasy Award, in the collection category. (news item)
OpenSpace.ru (hurray, it’s back!) reported that Vladimir Sorokin won the Gorky Prize for Лёд (Ice). The other nominees for the writer award were Boris Akunin for Декоратор (The Decorator) and Mikhail Shishkin for Венерин волос (Maidenhair). About the nominees: I didn’t much like Ice, which has been translated by Jamey Gambrell, but I can’t forget it; I’m planning to read the next book in the trilogy (Путь бро, known in English as Bro) soon. The Decorator is one of my favorite of Akunin’s Fandorin novel(la)s; it’s one of the pieces in the book known in English as Special Assignments, translated by Andrew Bromfield. As for Shishkin, I have a couple of his books on the shelf…
Speaking of Shishkin’s Maidenhair: Open Letter’s fall catalogue lists it as “forthcoming.”
Russian Life Books released Nina Murray’s translation of Petr Aleshkovskii’s Рыба. История одной миграции (Fish: A History of One Migration) a few days ago. Fish wasn’t a favorite when I read it last year – I didn’t think it lived up to its tremendous potential (previous post) – but it does have some good material, particularly in depicting personal and social trauma.
A Sergei Dovlatov museum is scheduled to open on September 3, 2011, Dovlatov’s birthday, in Berezino, a village in the Pskov oblast’ where Dovlatov lived in 1977. The announcement came on August 24, 2010, the twentieth anniversary of Dovlatov’s death. (Russian news item) Dovlatov wrote about the house in Заповедник (The Reserve). I read The Reserve and thought it was uneven, though many of the passages about working at the nearby Pushkin museum are hilarious. My favorite Dovlatov, so far, is Компромисс (The Compromise) (previous post), available in Anne Frydman’s translation.
Today’s post on my Other Bookshelf blog is about Daphne Kalotay’s Russian Winter, a novel about ballet, jewelry, poets, and Stalin-era wariness that moves between Soviet Moscow and contemporary Boston. Publisher Harper Collins calls it a “page-turner.” I don’t have especially strong positive or negative feelings about Russian Winter, but I do think its combination of heavy and light make it a good book for introducing readers to Russian themes. Most recommended to people interested in ballet and antique jewelry auctions. (Harper Collins sent a review copy of Russian Winter at my request.)
Up next: The afore-mentioned Devil’s Wheel.
Photo credit: Drabkin, via Wikipedia. (Sergei Dovlatov's grave at Mount Hebron Cemetery, Queens, New York.)