Fasten your seatbelts, Russianists: it’s about to get weird. Well, maybe no weirder than usual for literature of this period. Russian literature of the early 20th century was gloriously, insanely bizarre. Writers were flying their freak flag high, and reveling in it. “Beyond Tula” is a case in point. Although in fact, it’s no weirder […]Read more "“Beyond Tula: A Soviet Pastoral” by Andrei Egunov-Nikolev"
In “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” we meet a new Russia: one that stands with one foot in the recent Soviet past, one foot in the more distant past of Pushkin and Lermontov, and, well, a third foot in the Millennial post-Soviet present. And maybe a fourth foot in the West. Like Chekhov (and Bulgakov), Maxim Osipov […]Read more "“Rock, Paper, Scissors, and Other Stories” by Maxim Osipov"
Cross of Iron Willi Heinrich I have to admit that I read this book a long time ago, so perhaps it isn’t as good as I remember. But as I remember, it is incredible, a true classic of combat writing, so I thought I’d write a review of it for German Literature Month 2017. […]Read more "“Cross of Iron” by Willi Heinrich for #GermanLiteratureMonth"
The Cossacks Leo Tolstoy When he set off for the Caucasus in the early 1850s, the young Leo Tolstoy was in many ways much the same as most other young noblemen: caught up in gambling and chasing women, concerned with appearances and enjoying the moment. But even then Tolstoy was already thinking about other, more […]Read more "“The Cossacks” by Leo Tolstoy"
China Girl: And Other Stories Ho Lin “She hates the David Bowie song…How could anyone think of that as a beautiful Chinese girl?” So thinks May Lee, the exotic dancer whose story is told in the eponymous opening story of the collection “China Girl,” whose characters move, often ambiguously, between East and West, belonging to […]Read more "“China Girl: And Other Stories” by Ho Lin"
In this collection of tales, in turns lyrical and brutal, Oleg Ermakov, probably Russia’s foremost writer on the Soviet war in Afghanistan, depicts the war from multiple points of view: a boy on a date a couple of days before he heads off to basic training, a raw recruit forced to commit an act he […]Read more "“Afghan Tales” by Oleg Yermakov"
“The New Voices of Fantasy” is an eclectic mixture of diverse fantasy authors, featuring a multitude of subgenres in stories set around the globe. Although the short story format means that the worlds and cultures the authors have created appear only in snippet form, which is not normally my favorite way to experience fantasy, this […]Read more "“The New Voices of Fantasy”"
“Forgotten Reflections” tells two stories: one of feisty village girl Iseul, trying to survive during the Korean War, and the other of her granddaughter Jia, who goes on a quest to find out about her dying grandmother’s past instead of studying for her end-of-school exams like the dutiful, obedient girl her mother wants her to […]Read more "“Forgotten Reflections” by Young-Im Lee"
What a fabulous find! I’d never read any Estonian literature before encountering this book, so naturally I jumped at the chance. It’s the late 1690s, and Laurentius Hylas, accompanied only by his parakeet Clodia, has come from Lieden, where he ran into trouble at the university there for his unusual views, to the University of […]Read more "“The Willow King” by Meelis Friedenthal, trans. Matthew Hyde"
In “The Hideout,” a Czech engineer writes letters to his wife, Hanichka, from his hiding place in occupied France. In them, he describes how he went to Paris in 1939 without her knowledge in order to chase after another woman, only to be trapped there when the Nazis, who have taken Czechoslovakia, declare him a […]Read more "“The Hideout” by Egon Hostovsky"