Posts in Fiction
Envy, by Yuri Olesha

One of the delights of Russian literature, a tour de force that has been compared to the best of Nabokov and Bulgakov, Yuri Olesha's novella Envy brings together cutting social satire, slapstick humor, and a wild visionary streak. Andrei is a model Soviet citizen, a swaggeringly self-satisfied mogul of the food industry who intends to revolutionize modern life with mass-produced sausage. Nikolai is a loser. Finding him drunk in the gutter, Andrei gives him a bed for the night and a job as a gofer. Nikolai takes what he can, but that doesn't mean he's grateful. Griping, sulking, grovelingly abject, he despises everything Andrei believes in, even if he envies him his every breath.

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The Book of Happiness, by Nina Berberova

"Schwartz, Berberova's longtime friend and translator, has written an affecting introduction to this volume, which she has translated with care and a suitable transparency. "The Ladies from St. Petersburg" is a very slight book, but it should add to readers' respect for Berberova and, as Schwartz puts it, for "the force of her art, her intellect and her will." -- Ken Kalfus, New York Times

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Billancourt Tales, by Nina Berberova

Thirteen newly discovered stories by the great Russian writer, translated into English for the first time. Now added to the quartet of books by Nina Berberova that New Directions has presented for the delight of American readers is this delectable baker's dozen—Billancourt Tales. These are thirteen stories (Berberova called them "Fiestas") chosen from those she wrote in Paris between 1928 and 1940 for the émigré newspaper The Latest News.

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The Ladies from St. Petersburg, by Nina Berberova

"Schwartz, Berberova's longtime friend and translator, has written an affecting introduction to this volume, which she has translated with care and a suitable transparency. "The Ladies from St. Petersburg" is a very slight book, but it should add to readers' respect for Berberova and, as Schwartz puts it, for "the force of her art, her intellect and her will." -- Ken Kalfus, New York Times

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On Upper Maslovka, by Dina Rubina

The Red Wheel is Solzhenitsyn’s magnum opus about the Russian Revolution. Solzhenitsyn tells this story in the form of a meticulously researched historical novel, supplemented by newspaper headlines of the day, fragments of street action, cinematic screenplay, and historical overview. The first two nodes— August 1914 and November 1916—focus on Russia’s crises and recovery, on revolutionary terrorism and its suppression, on the missed opportunity of Pyotr Stolypin’s reforms, and how the surge of patriotism in August 1914 soured as Russia bled in World War I. March 1917—the third node—tells 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.

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The Tattered Cloak and Other Novels, by Nina Berberova

First published in Europe in the 1930s and 40s, these searing, evocative stories by the late Russian expatriate writer Nina Berberova (1901-1993) are portraits of the lives of Russian exiles in Paris on the eve of World War II. The protagonists range from housekeepers and waiters to shabby-genteel aristocrats and intellectuals––but all are united in a haunting displacement from their pasts, and all share a troubling uncertainty about the future.

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The Accompanist, by Nina Berberova

A spellbinding, short novel set in post-revolutionary Russia, The Accompanist portrays with extraordinary sensitivity the entangled relationships of three characters. Sonechka is a talented but shy young pianist hired by a beautiful soprano, Maria Nikolaevna, and her devoted, bourgeois husband. Maria is everything Sonechka is not, glamorous, flamboyant. Her voice brings with it "something immortal and indisputable, something which gives reality to the human being's dream of having wings." Doomed to live in her mentor's shadow, the young girl secretly schemes to expose the singer's infidelities.

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