Monday, October 26, 2009

Notable New Translations: Krzhizhanovsky’s Memories of the Future

By my calculation, “new” describes about 5/7 of Memories of the Future, a collection of Soviet-era stories by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky translated by Joanne Turnbull and Nikolai Formozov. Liesl Schillinger’s review of Memories of the Future, published by New York Review Books, appeared in yesterday’s New York Times Book Review.

Why is Memories of the Future not all new? I don’t have either book, but it sounds like two of the stories in Memories of the Future already appeared in 7 Stories, translated by Turnbull, and published in 2006 by Glas. Turnbull won the 2007 Rossica Prize for translating 7 Stories. (One story, “Quadraturin,” seems to be in both Krzhizhanovsky collections plus Russian Stories from Pushkin to Buida.) The Literary Saloon noted the overlap in a post last week that also, quite rightfully, bemoaned the pathetic and chronic dearth of reviews of translations in the New York Times Book Review. The Complete Review’s favorable review of 7 Stories includes links to other reviews of that book.

I confess: I haven’t yet read Krzhizhanovsky. If you haven’t either and want to read him in English translation, you could start with Turnbull’s version of Yellow Coal, available online here. A very brief story, “Flylephant,” translated by Andrea Gregovich, is here. A number of Russian originals are online here.

A couple unrelated, moderately recent items…

Russian Book Market,” by Chad Post, from the Three Percent blog, about discussion of, yes, the Russian book market, at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

The final twist in Nabokov’s untold story,” by Robert McCrum, from The Observer, about The Original of Laura.

Krzhizhanovsky on Amazon

The Original of Laura on Amazon


  1. Hi Liz! I was so happy today when I saw that you posted something about Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky! I was both happy and very suprised, since I read him for the first time just a couple of a weeks ago (I read his excellent story "Vizvrashchenie Myunkhauzena", where the classic hero arrives in St. Petersburg just in time for the Bolshevik Revolution). I didn't know he was translated into English! But I think you'll really like him, his Russian is difficult (even for me, sadly) so a translation might help some :)

    Keep up the good work! And congratulations to hitting "the terrible twos" with your blog! It is always a great pleasure to read what you have to say.

  2. That should be "Возвращение Мюнхаузена" in Russian ;)

  3. Thanks for your comment, Josefina, it's always nice to hear from you!

    All these reviews of Krzhizhanovsky have piqued my interest... maybe I'll follow your recommendation and look for the Мюнхаузен story.

  4. I confess that I've never read anything of him, but now you gave me some reasons to!



  5. Deise, please let me know what you think after you read him!

  6. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!