Horsemen of the Sands, by Leonid Yuzefovich

Horsemen of the Sands cover.jpg

Horsemen of the Sands

by Leonid Yuzefovich

Translated from the Russian by Marian Schwartz

Archipelago Books, 2018

In a Soviet elementary school, a bombastic teacher lectures his young students on traffic accidents and family separation, unwittingly stirring an emotional crisis. A lost wallet, an office fling, an upset stomach—the minutiae of life unveil the private tragedies at the heart of a school community.

A world away, an old herdsman entrances a young tank commander with the legend of Baron Ungern, the real-life White Russian officer who conquered Mongolia. A foggy epic unfolds, a tale of faith and revenge centering on a mysterious amulet, said to make the wearer invincible. From the dim of the classroom to the vast Mongolian steppe, Leonid Yuzefovich’s masterful novellas The Storm and Horsemen of the Sands drill straight to the core of human emotion. These Russian parables illuminate the fears, passions, and ambitions beneath the grandest acts and the tiniest gestures.


“[‘The Storm’] is an enchanting work, from its gemlike descriptions of objects and scenes to the narrator’s fondness for the world of the story and good humor toward its characters—even the novella’s villain, the rigid, hubristic road safety instructor Rodygin is redeemed by the end. And though it may seem humble and small next to Yuzefovich’s novels and even Horsemen of the Sands, its companion novella in a new Archipelago Books volume translated from Russian by Marian Schwartz, The Storm is by no means slight. Beneath its veneer of gentle irony, Yuzefovich’s favorite subject—history—rumbles on. It is propelled by religion, superstition, the natural world and—most importantly in this supremely humanistic work—individual lives and actions. Beware the ‘smell of electricity’ wafting through the story and remarked upon obliquely by its character: this novella is charged throughout and leaves a scorching impression. — Sabrina Jaszi, Reading in Translation, February 18, 2019

“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

“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

“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

“These are fitting novellas to bring to an American public...they eschew the Russian penchant for long philosophical monologues or dialogues that create philosophical debate and meaning in a work, and instead Yuzefovich opts for the more “American” style of communicating meaning through events themselves...The internal consistency of the novellas is a testament to the craft of the writer, and also to Schwartz’s translation.” —Ryan K. Strader, Cleaver Magazine

“[The Storm] asks readers to go beneath the surface, while [Horsemen of the Sands] opens up an unfamiliar world and invites us to think about the stories we tell. 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...The prose adroitly bears both an ethereal and a concrete quality...culminating in a fascinating meditation on trickery and the power of suggestion.” — Meagan Logsdon, Foreword Reviews

To purchase directly from the publisher, click here.