Sunday, March 13, 2011

Notable New Translations, NOS-1973, and Many Events

There’s lots of news to report today so I’ll just get to it…

New Translations: Today’s New York Times Books Review carried Stephen Kotkin’s generally favorable review of Vladimir Sorokin’s Day of the Oprichnik, which FSG releases on Tuesday in Jamey Gambrell’s translation. Kotkin, a Princeton history professor, includes historical background related to the book and Sorokin’s career plus more details than I would have wanted to see before reading the novel. I thought the book was very good (previous post) so am pleased the Book Review ran a full-length piece. Kotkin mentions, in passing, Sorokin’s Ice Trilogy, also translated by Gambrell, which comes out on Tuesday from New York Review Books. I’m still planning to read the second trilogy book soon. Though I didn’t especially like the first book, Ice (previous post), when I read it, I’ve warmed to it over the years, after reading more Sorokin.

I’m even more excited that Liudmila Ulitskaya’s Даниэль Штайн, Переводчик, will be out in late March, as Daniel Stein, Interpreter in Arch Tait’s translation, from Overlook. I loved the book when I read it three years ago (previous post), and have been enjoying rereading the beginning and taking a look at how Ulitskaya combines historical and invented material. She does that in her latest book, Зелёный шатёр (The Green Tent), too, but to much different effect, creating a more traditional book of fiction: linked stories with cameo appearances from real people, rather than Daniel Stein’s collection of fictional documents, based on actual people, and written to feel real. (I hope that makes sense!)

Events: Ulitskaya will be making several appearances in New York in early April. She’ll be at the Brooklyn Public Library on April 2 at 4 p.m., for a Russian-language program. She’ll also read at The Harriman Institute on April 5 at 6 p.m. Ulitskaya will appear at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, too, at 7 p.m. on April 6 in a CEC ArtsLink program; the event will be conducted in English but Ulitskaya will read in Russian, "accompanied by a reading of the English translation." Full details are online here. Also: Vladimir Sorokin is on the list of writers coming to the PEN World Voices program during April 25-May 1. He’ll be appearing with Keith Gessen on April 30 (information) and in "Russia in Two Acts," an event on May 1 featuring, among others, Garry Kasparov and Jamey Gambrell (information).

Ulitskaya and dozens of other writers are on the packed schedule for next month’s London Book Fair. I’m especially looking forward to meeting Margarita Khemlin after translating one of her stories, and hearing Mikhail Gigolashvili speak about his Чертово колесо (The Devil’s Wheel), which I enjoyed so much (previous post). I’m also hoping to meet some blog readers… do let me know if you’ll be there so I can watch for you.

NOS(E)-1973: I noticed a news item today about an unusual program from the Prokhorov Foundation, NOSE-1973, involving literature published or written in 1973. In brief, NOSE-1973 recognizes diverse work that is aesthetically and socially significant but the program is designed to explore the NOSE award process using recognized classics. (No money is mentioned: this sounds like a just-for-fun venture.) Public debates will be held on March 25 but you can vote online here. When I wrote this post, Varlam Shalamov’s Kolyma Tales was leading Venedikt Erofeev’s Moscow to the End of the Line, 40 to 36 votes.

Many of the works on the list have been translated, so this is a great program for readers who don’t know Russian! Several of the books have been waiting on my shelves for years... The nominees:

  • Aleksandr Galich. Генеральная репетиция (Dress Rehearsal)
  • Venedikt Erofeev. Москва-Петушки (Moscow to the End of the Line)
  • Vasilii Shukshin. Характеры (Characters, a story collection)
  • Andrei Siniavskii. Прогулки с Пушкиным (Strolls with Pushkin)
  • Liudmila Petrushevskaia. Уроки музыки (Music Lessons, drama)
  • Fazil Iskander. Сандро из Чегема (Sandro of Chegem)
  • Sasha Sokolov. Школа для дураков (A School for Fools)
  • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Архипелаг ГУЛАГ (The Gulag Archipelago)
  • The Strugatskii Brothers. Пикник на обочине (Roadside Picnic)
  • Iurii Trifonov. Нетерпение (Impatience)
  • Evgenii Kharitonov. Undated prose from the 1970s.
  • Varlam Shalamov. Колымские рассказы (Kolyma Tales)
  • Igor Kholin. Prose written from the late 1960s to 1973
  • Vladimir Nabokov. Strong Opinions

Disclosures: Standard disclosures apply. I have not seen or read any of the newly translated books.

Up Next: Mikhail Shishkin’s Письмовник (Letter-Book), which redeemed itself in the final third, and Elena Chizhova’s Приступница / Полукровка (The [female] Criminal or Half-Breed), which is either chaotically unsatisfying or unsatisfyingly chaotic. Or perhaps both.

Image credit: Photo of “commemorative plaque for Varlam Shalamov in Vologda on the house where he was born,” from Маниту, via Wikipedia.


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