Written in Soviet Moscow in the 1920s—but considered too subversive even to show to a publisher—the seven tales included here attest to Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s boundless imagination, black humor, and breathtaking irony: a man loses his way in the vast black waste of his own small room; the Eiffel Tower runs amok; a kind soul dreams of selling “everything you need for suicide”; an absentminded passenger boards the wrong train, winding up in a place where night is day, nightmares are the reality, and the backs of all facts have been broken; a man out looking for work comes across a line for logic but doesn’t join it as there’s no guarantee the logic will last; a sociable corpse misses his own funeral; an inventor gets a glimpse of the far-from-radiant communist future.
Fantastically imaginative, darkly ironic and marvelously crafted, these seven tales written in the 1920s were unpublished during Krzhizhanovsky’s lifetime. Set mostly in Moscow, where the toilsome workdays sap spiritual strength, the stories are about the strange, wondrous and alarming things that can result from a chance encounter…Turnbull’s translation reads wonderfully, capturing the isolation and strangeness of Krzhizhanovsky’s startling stories.
— Publishers Weekly
Krzhizhanovsky is often compared to Borges, Swift, Poe, Gogol, Kafka, and Beckett, yet his fiction relies on its own special mixture of heresy and logic…phantasmagoric.
— Natasha Randall, Bookforum
Curiously, one of the most startling qualities of his work is the directness with which it addresses our 21st century concerns. It’s as if the Soviet editors were right: Krzhizhanovsky now seems more our contemporary than theirs…His stories, like those of Jorge Luis Borges, are closer to poetry and philosophy than to the realistic novel…It is now clear that Krzhizhanovsky is one of the greatest Russian writers of the last century.
— Robert Chandler, Financial Times
For anyone enthralled by the satirical avant-garde that briefly shone on the fringes of Soviet culture in the 1920s, here’s a revelation. Krzhizhanovsky somehow scraped a living in post-revolution Moscow as he wrote stories infused by a disturbing surrealism. Joanne Turnbull’s fine translations of seven won the Rossica Prize, and this edition should gain them a flock of new fans.
—Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
- Format: Paperback
- Publication Date: October 6, 2009
- Pages: 256
- ISBN: 9781590173190
- Series: NYRB Classics