Sunday, April 8, 2012

Notable New Translations for 2012 (plus a few from 2011 and for 2013…)

Ah, lists! Now that I’ve finally finished compiling this list, I understand why I procrastinated for so long: the titles may already translated for me but this inventory of newish and upcoming translations is larger than I expected. A very nice problem to have! I’ll start with brand-new and then meander…

A few notes first: If I’ve blogged about a book, I linked my previous post to its Russian title. I linked English titles to publisher pages. Actual release dates (and even titles!) may vary. Finally: my apologies that translator names are missing for a few entries. I’ll fill those in as soon as I can!

I’m happy to report that Oleg Zaionchkovsky’s Happiness Is Possible (Счастье возможно), translated by Andrew Bromfield, is out from And Other Stories, a new British publisher. Another book I enjoyed, Zakhar Prilepin’s Sin (Грех), winner of the NatsBest of the decade award, was just released by another new publisher, Glagoslav, in Simon Patterson and Nina Chordas’s translation. Glagoslav also recently brought out a Patterson-Chordas translation of Elena Chizhova’s The Time of Women (Время женщин), not a favorite but a book that brought record numbers of questions after The New York Times ran an article about Chizhova.

Other Glagoslav Russian-English translations on this year’s calendar include: Igor Sakhnovsky’s The Vital Needs of the Dead (Насущные нужды умерших), translated by Julia Kent (June); Alexander Terekhov’s The Stone Bridge (Каменный мост), translated by Patterson and Chordas (Oct.); Oleg Pavlov’s Asystole (Асистолия) (Dec.) by a translator TBA, and Eduard Kochergin’s NatsBest-winning Christened With Crosses (Крещенные крестами), translated by Patterson (Nov.).

A few other relatively new books… Pavel Kostin’s It’s Time (Время пришло), in James Rann’s translation, from Urban Romantics; and two books by Andrey Kurkov from Melville House: Penguin Lost (Закон улитки) and The Case of the General’s Thumb (Игра в отрезанный палец), both translated by George Bird. Another book with an animal theme is forthcoming from Hesperus in June: The Way of Muri (Путь Мури), by Ilya Boyashov, translated by Amanda Love Darragh, is an allegorical novel about a cat wandering Europe; it won the 2007 National Bestseller Award. Another British publisher, Angel Classics, will release Muireann Maguire’s Red Spectres: Russian Twentieth-Century Tales of the Supernatural, a collection that includes pieces by writers including Krzhizhanovsky, Bulgakov, Chayanov, and Peskov.

Books on the way later this year include Mikhail Shishkin’s Maidenhair (Венерин волос), in Marian Schwartz’s translation, from Open Letter, and St. Petersburg Noir, edited by literary agents Natalia Smirnova and Julia Goumen, and published by Akashic with commissioned stories from writers including Sergei Nosov, Lena Eltang, and Andrei Rubanov (Aug.). Amazon Crossing has several books by Andrei Gelasimov, translated by Marian Schwartz, listed with various dates in late 2012 and 2013; my favorite is The Lying Year (Год обмана), currently listed for January 2013. I should also mention two nonfiction books Marian translated for Yale University Press: The Leningrad Blockade, 1941-1944, edited by Richard Bidlack and Nikita Lomagin, is on the schedule for June, and Aleksandra Shatskikh’s Black Square, with scholarship on Malevich, arrives later.

What else? Another book with “happy” in the title: in November, New York Review Books will bring out Happy Moscow, a compilation of works by Andrey Platonov in translations by Robert & Elizabeth Chandler, with Nadya Bourova, Angela Livingstone, Olga Meerson, and Eric Naiman. The book includes a revised translation of the title novel plus two stories, an article, and a film script. Robert & Elizabeth Chandler—along with Sibelan Forrester, Anna Gunin, and Olga Meerson—have another title on the way: Russian Magic Tales from Pushkin to Platonov, coming from Penguin Classics in December 2012. Robert Chandler told me the book is roughly half “true folktales”; the other stories are from Pushkin, Bazhov, Teffi, and Platonov.

Last—but definitely not least—are titles from Glas, many part of Glas’s collaboration with the Debut Prize: Arslan Khasavov’s Sense (Смысл) translated by Arch Tait (spring-summer)¸ Vlas Doroshevich’s What the Emperor Cannot Do: Tales and Legends of the Orient translated by Rowen Glie and John Dewey (spring); and an anthology with seven stories, Still Waters Run Deep: YoungWomen’s Writing from Russia (September). Several other Glas books are already available: The Scared Generation, two short novels by Boris Yampolsky (The Old Arbat/Арбат, режимная улица) and Vasil Bykov (The Manhunt/Облава), translated by Rachel Polonsky and John Dewey… Mendeleev Rock, with Andrei Kuzechkin’s title novella (Менделеев-рок) and Pavel Kostin’s Rooftop Anesthesia (Анестезия крыш), both translated by Andrew Bromfield… and Off the Beaten Track: Stores by Russian Hitchhikers, with Igor Savelyev’s Pale City (Бледный город), Irina Bogatyreva’s АвтоSTOP (Off the Beaten Track), and Tatiana Mazepina’s Traveling Towards Paradise; translators respectively, Amanda Love Darragh, Arch Tait, and Ainsley Morse and Mihaela Pacurar. On the way: Alexander Snegirev’s Petroleum Venus (Нефтяная Венера), apparently in early 2013.

One more last but not least: Russian Life sent me two books in recent months… Maya Kucherskaya’s Faith & Humor: Notes from Muscovy (Современный патерик), translated by Alexei Bayer, is described on the back of my review copy as a mix of fact, fiction, myth, and history. And a story collection by Stephan Erik Clark, Vladimir’s Mustache, is written in English but set in Russia, in various centuries. It looks promising.

I have a horrible feeling I’ve forgotten something or somebody… but it won’t be Andrew Bromfield’s translation of A Displaced Person (Перемещённое лицо), the third/last of Vladimir Voinovich’s Chonkin books, due out some day, some month from Northwestern University Press! Please add a comment or send me a note if I’ve forgotten (or didn’t know about) your book(s). Or, horrors, made an error.

Post-Posting Additions:
April 17: Hesperus will publish James Rann’s translation of Anna Starobinets’s Живущий in fall 2012, as The Living.

Andrew Bromfield's translation of Hamid Ismailov's A Poet and Bin-Laden came out from Glagoslav in fall 2012; Andrew also wrote that author Rustam Ibragimbekov self-published Andrew's translation of Solar Plexus, a book set in one of my favorite places to visit, Baku. 

Edwin Trommelen's Davai! The Russians and Their Vodka, translated from the Dutch by David Stephenson and published by Russian Life Books, presents lots of cultural background on vodka. There are many, many bits from literature: this is a fun book to have on a side table for some quick reading.

One more 2012 listing from Glagoslav:  Elvira Baryakina's White Shanghai: A Novel of the Roaring Twenties in China, translated by Anna Muzychka and Benjamin Kuttner.

Listings gathered at the 2013 AWP conference:
Two from Northwestern University Press: Ilf and Petrov's The Twelve Chairs, translated by Anne O. Fisher, and Alexander Herzen's A Herzen Reader, translated and edited by Kathleen Parthe. Biblioasis published David Helwig's translations of three Chekhov stories in a beautiful illustrated book called About Love
Two other bits of news:
I’ve been excited (for at least a year!) that Russia will be the featured country at this year’s BookExpo America. I’m especially excited now that I’m working on preparations for the many Read Russia events scheduled for early June in New York… the list of writers scheduled to attend includes Olga Slavnikova and Mikhail Shishkin, plus a bunch of Debut Prize writers. I’ll be writing more, soon, about BEA and Read Russia.

Also, St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, is organizing a conference, “Decadence or Renaissance? Russian Literature Since 1991,” for September 24-26, 2012. Conference organizers are soliciting proposals for papers; information is here. I hope to go!

Disclaimers and Disclosures. The usual, with too many specifics to list: I’ve met, worked on paid projects for, discussed translation and specific projects, chatted and shared meals with, and otherwise been in contact with numerous individuals and entities mentioned in this post. I received review copies of some books listed.


  1. What did you like about Год обмана? In a review, Bykov namedrops Le Jouet, a 1976 movie with Pierre Richard that is built on seemingly the same premise.

    Bizarrely, Russians have an enduring love for the films of Pierre Richard, Alain Delon, and Louis de Funès, but not, say, Claude Lelouch. The entirety of Le Jouet is on YouTube here, although without subtitles.

    1. Thank you for this comment, Alex... your mention of Alain Delon reminds me that I had never heard of him until the Наутилус помпилиус song about how Alain Delon drinks bourbon and speaks French...

      I read Год обмана six or seven years ago and don't remember plot details very well (I wasn't blogging or taking many notes then) but the book left a (positive!) impression of very decent, enjoyable mainstream fiction with a mixture of criminal and coming-of-age themes plus a lot of humor. I found it very readable back then, when I was just returning to reading in Russian, and would particularly recommend it to readers looking for a not-too-long novel that combines light and heavy.

  2. I hope there will be some Polish translations on the market as well!!!

  3. Wow, you must keep immaculate records to have put this list together! Nice!

    1. Amy, you are (as always!) very kind... I wish I were half as organized as people seem to think I am!

  4. Just to add to Alex's comment: I am always puzzled by the fact that, to this day, Russian bookstores pride themselves for having "all" of Joe Dassin, Mireille Mathieu--French singers that never were that popular in France in the seventies, and the movies Alex mentioned. Radio Kultura on weekends broadcasts a French songs program and the gingle is Joe Dassin's "Sur les Champs Elysees." Some things endure beyond belief... To illustrate this French mania, I am sharing here a link to Inye Berega with a cute piece by French author Michel Louyot about Lino Ventura in Moscow (Lino's Passport) that is a fine evocation of those times. Michel Louyot is a two-time nominee to the Prix Goncourt and had a long career in Eastern Europe and Soviet Russia (lecturer and cultural attaché/counselor). He made me read this little story as we were working together on the translation of one of his novellas, Le Violon de neige.

    Thanks Lisa for this interesting list. :)

  5. A belated thank you for this comment, Catherine! There are so many of these cross-cultural mysteries...