Marian Schwartz Photo

Marian Schwartz translates Russian classic and contemporary fiction, history, biography, criticism, and fine art. She is the principal English translator of the works of Nina Berberova and translated the New York Times’ bestseller The Last Tsar, by Edvard Radzinsky, as well as classics by Mikhail Bulgakov, Ivan Goncharov, Yuri Olesha, Mikhail Lermontov, and Leo Tolstoy. Her most recent publications are Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's March 1917: The Red Wheel, Node III, Book 1, Leonid Yuzefovich’s Horsemen of the Sands, and Olga Slavnkova’s The Man Who Couldn’t Die: The Tale of an Authentic Human Being. She is a past president of the American Literary Translators Association and the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts translation fellowships and numerous prizes, including the 2014 Read Russia Prize for Contemporary Russian Literature, the 2016 Soeurette Diehl Frasier Award from the Texas Institute of Letters, and the 2018 Linda Gaboriau Award for Translation from the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

My translation of one of Nina Berberova’s finest novellas, “Resurrection of Mozart,” has been included in Found in Translation: 100 of the Finest Short Stories Ever Translated, selected by Frank Wynne. The novella first appeared in 1991 The Tattered Cloak and Other Stories.

Speaking of Berberova, there has been a gratifying flurry of interest in The Revolt, first at kaggsysbookishramblings (“The Compromises of Love”), then in Pechorin’s Journal, with reference to a 2017 review at “His Futile Preoccupations …” and to Berberova more generally. Hold that thought.

Nobel Prize–winner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s March 1917: The Red Wheel, Node III, Book 1 has been named a 2018 Outstanding Academic title by Choice magazine. Book 2 will be published in November 2019.

Check out my recent post on the Columbia University Press blog, “On Translating the Title of The Man Who Couldn’t Die” here, and my other recent post, on the Center for the Art of Translation’s blog, “On the Outside Looking In,” about translating Leonid Yuzefovich’s Horsemen of the Sands, here.


New and Forthcoming

the man who couldn't die: the tale of an authentic human being, by Olga Slavnikova

In the chaos of early-1990s Russia, a paralyzed veteran’s wife and stepdaughter conceal the Soviet Union’s collapse from him in order to keep him—and his pension—alive, until it turns out the tough old man has other plans.

Listed by Meduza as one of 2019’s top Russia-related books. Read all about it here.

Click here to purchase the book from the Columbia University Press website with the coupon code “RusLib” for a 30% discount.

march 1917: The Red wheel, node iii, book 2, by aleksandr solzhenitsyn

The second volume in the third node of March 1917 continues the story of the Russian Revolution itself, during which not only does the Imperial government melt in the face of the mob, but the leaders of the opposition prove utterly incapable of controlling the course of events. Coming in November 15, 2019, from University of Notre Dame Press.

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News and Events

praise for the man who couldn’t die: the tale of an authentic human being

From Times Literary Supplement: “The Man Who Couldn’t Die is a Gogolian portrait of the Kharitonovs, a Moscow family who “had not been handed any party favors at capitalism’s kiddie party” after the fall of the Soviet Union. . . . The novel was first published in Russian in 2004, and now delivers Olga Slavnikova’s pitch-perfect descriptions of the first post- Soviet decade in Marian Schwartz’s deft translation.

From Kirkus Reviews: Darkly sardonic novel of life in a post-Soviet Russia that keeps looking longingly to its totalitarian past. . . . Concise but densely packed and subtle in its satire. Well-known in Russia, Slavnikova is a writer American readers will want to have more of.

From The Baffler: “In this climate, it’s a good bet that Slavnikova’s latest book, The Man Who Couldn’t Die, lucidly translated by Marian Schwartz, will resound with American readers. Bristling with voter fraud, fake news, and the cozy top-and-tail of media moguls and politicians, Slavnikova’s book is fluent in new language of the damaged reality principle.”

From Los Angeles Review of Books: “Slavnikova’s novel shows us all the Lenin statues still in place. It portrays a culture chained to old realities, unable to establish a new understanding of itself. This is a funhouse mirror worth looking into, especially in today’s United States with its alternative facts, unpoetic assertions, and morbid relationship with the past.”

From Russian Dinosaur: “The Man Who Couldn't Die is intense, claustrophobic, bitterly funny, and of course ironic: the bodily claustrophobia of Alexei's existence is echoed most closely not by the Soviet era or its afterlife in the family's Red Corner, but by the corruption and chaos of New Russia - which eventually spills over into the Kharitonovs' apartment.”

praise for Leonid Yuzefovich’s Horsemen of the sands

“Because Leonid Yuzefovich seems to have drunk at the same spring that nourished two centuries of great Russian writers, you may feel that you have read him before. But you probably haven’t. He has been well-served by his translator Marian Schwartz, who delivers these very Russian stories in pitch-perfect English.” — Peter Gordon, Asian Review of Books

“Shot through with a mythic and cipherlike style, Yuzefovich’s novellas are cogent depictions of faith, obsession, power, and the ties that bind. . . .” — Publishers Weekly

“One can only hope that more of Yuzefovich’s work makes its way into English with all the speed and determination of the horsemen he chronicles.” — Yelena Furman, Los Angeles Review of Books

“History and human drama collide in Leonid Yuzefovich’s Horsemen of the Sands, a wonderful tangle of relationships, religions, and realism....” — Meagan Logsdon, Foreword Reviews

The framed narrative structure is gripping and seeps with layers of history. In English, Marian Schwartz expertly translates the different storytelling rhythms of each teller.” — Olga Zilberbourg, World Literature Today

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