On opening night of Winternachten festival 2017, January, 19, 2017, at the Theater Aan Het Spu in the Hague, distinguished Russian writer Mikhail Shishkin made a powerful statement about the freedom of speech:
" . . . In 1968, in protest against the Soviet tanks in Prague, a few people went out on Red Square and unfurled signs that said “For our freedom and yours.” They were arrested immediately. I was seven at the time and knew nothing of this. Our entire enormous country learned nothing about this action. These peoples’ fates were destroyed, and they faced years of prison or psych hospitals. After the Soviet Union’s collapse, people started writing and making films about them. Their action became a symbol of resistance and they themselves became heroes of the struggle for freedom.
"When the KGB archives were opened up briefly, it became clear that other people in different cities of the vast empire had also protested in August 1968 and had also ended up in prison, but no one had heard anything at all about their protests and shattered fates. Human rights organizations in the West knew nothing about them, and no one demanded their release. Later, no films were made about them and they did not become heroes. They were not awarded prizes, and no one toasted their courage at international PEN congresses. They never gained a martyr’s fame; they were just tortured quietly and out of the public eye their sacrifices had not been in vain. . . ."
To read the full text in my English translation, click here.
Phoebe Taplin has written a wonderful review in Russia Beyond the Headlines of Andrei Gelasimov's newest title, Into the Thickening Fog:
Into the Thickening Fog often feels like a quintessential Russian novel: it starts with a bout of heavy drinking, is set in a frozen northern city, and features dogs, demons and existential angst. Andrei Gelasimov’s novels have earned him numerous awards, and this 2015 offering, just out in English, has many hallmarks of his prize-winning playful style.
And she has kind words for my translation as well:
This is the fifth Gelasimov novel that Marian Schwartz has translated, and she is a past master at capturing his allusive, elusive style. Here, his free-range references flap from classical (Circe, Charybdis), biblical (friendship three times denied) and Shakespearean (leaping, like Hamlet, into his dead wife’s grave or quoting Macbeth’s sound and fury) to pop cultural (his noisy breathing like a “raspy, unintelligible, and infinitely lonely Darth Vader”, hair standing up like Doc Brown’s in Back to the Future).
Read the whole review here.
We now have a cover for Polina Dashkova's fabulous crime novel, Madness Treads Lightly--my first foray into popular fiction, and a grand one it is.
Dashkova is one of the best-selling crime writers in Russia and a great favorite all over Europe, and now, at last, English-language readers get their turn.
If you like a good crime story brought to a ringing conclusion by a smart, brave woman, this is definitely the book for you.
Throw in exotic Siberia and a brilliant sociopath and you're there!
Look for it in September (if not sooner)!
This Friday, November 4, 2016, I'll be delivering the Marilyn Gaddis Rose Lecture for the Literary Division of the American Translators Association on "The Business of Retranslating the Classics," at its annual conference, being held in San Francisco.
I'll be talking about the specific economics of publishing re-translations of classics that makepublishers eager to produce new translations of classic and near-classic texts and address how, equipped with an understanding of how publishers think, literary translators can navigate the classics to their artistic and economic advantage.
If you are one of the thousands attending this vast conference, I hope to see you at my lecture, as well as at my joint presentation with Rosamund Bartlett on our differing approaches to rendering Tolstoy's prose successfully in English, focusing on the linguistic and stylistic decisions we each took in translating selected characteristic passages.
This time the author takes us to the equivalent of Yakutsk, where a hometown boy who has made good in Moscow as a film director has returned in the dead of winter to clear his bad conscience, only to encounter a city on the brink of catastrophe as it finds out exactly what extreme cold means when the city's central heating supply partially shuts down and evacuation is not an option.