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"
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"
In “Wolf Hunt,” the threads of village passions come together as a group sets off on a wolf hunt that serves as a pretext for something even more murderous. Living side-by-side for decades, right through the upheavals of WWII and forced collectivization, has inflamed resentments rather than drawing people together, leading to a violent denouement. […]Read more "“Wolf Hunt” by Ivailo Petrov"
Iceland is one of those romantic destinations that you hear a lot about, but how often do you actually get to experience Icelandic culture? For all its popularity as a tourist spot, there’s very little Icelandic literature available to the average reader; so little, in fact, that I went into this collection, my first foray […]Read more "“Out of the Blue: New Short Fiction from Iceland”"
Zakhar Prilepin represents much of what is confusing and contradictory about contemporary Russia. And on the other hand, it’s all absolutely simple. He’s a pro-Stalinist member of the anti-Putin opposition, a writer who exposes the dark side of modern Russian life while volunteering in the army of the pro-Russian Donetsk People’s Republic. Western readers […]Read more "“Sin” by Zakhar Prilepin"
Meeting with My Brother (Weatherhead Books on Asia) Korea is divided and families are torn apart. What would it really be like to finally find the family you’ve never met? Would there be any common ground, or are the divisions between the two countries two great even for blood to overcome? Such are the questions […]Read more "“Meeting with My Brother” by Yi Mun-Yol"
The Same Old Story A young idealist leaves his hovering mother behind to go change the world, only to find the world less than eager to be changed. Crushed at a couple of minor setbacks, he falls into a deep depression, and recovers only to become obsessed with money and material success.The story of one […]Read more "“The Same Old Story” by Ivan Goncharov; trans. Stephen Pearl"