All posts tagged: Russia

Review: What Isn’t Remembered by Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry

Story collection by KRISTINA GORCHEVA-NEWBERRY

Review by JULIA LICHTBLAU

Cover Page for What Isn't Remembered, by Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry. The book cover has a scene of a lighthouse near the water, with a blocky and colorful art style.

There are two Russias in Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry’s passionate and accomplished debut short-story collection, What Isn’t Remembered, winner of the 2021 Raz/Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize. The geographical country, where many of the stories take place, and the mental state of Russianness, which characters carry with them in the diaspora. There is also America, an alluring, often disappointing exile—and there are Americans, mostly well-meaning, who struggle to live with their mercurial Russian lovers, spouses, friends, or children, whose Russianness comprises the psychic ramifications of political and historical traumas going back multiple generations—World War II, Soviet rule, the chaotic break-up of the USSR, or the Armenian genocide, to name a few.

Review: What Isn’t Remembered by Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry
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Another Mother

By POLINA BELIMOVA

Image of children playing in a sandbox while a woman watches.

       I was waiting at the top of the escalator, as we had agreed the night before by phone. The marble palace of the metro station Gorkovskaya, named after a Russian writer whose name means “bitter,” felt solemn enough for the occasion. I was peering into the face of every woman delivered by the moving stairs, as if each was a final product on a factory line reaching its destination. I watched their wandering looks, their wrinkles, the tensions of their mouths and speculated which one was my mother. Any of them could be.  

Another Mother
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August 2020 Poetry Feature #2: Philip Nikolayev translates Alexander Pushkin

Two poems by Alexander Pushkin, translated from the Russian by Philip Nikolayev

Table of Contents:

  • Night
  • The Burned Letter

Philip Nikolayev is editor of Fulcrum. His poetry collections include Monkey Time (Verse / Wave Books) and Dusk Raga (Salt).

Alexander Pushkin (1799-83) is widely regarded as the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. 

Night

It’s for you that my soft and affectionate voice
Disturbs at this late hour a silent night’s repose.
Where by my bed a melancholy candle glows,
My verse rushes along, burbles and overflows
In brooks of love, filled with you, and at last I see
Your eyes, out of the dark shining, smiling at me,
And finally my ear makes out the cherished words:
My gentle, tender friend… I love you… I am yours!

August 2020 Poetry Feature #2: Philip Nikolayev translates Alexander Pushkin
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Anzhelina Polonskaya: Russian Poetry in Translation

Poems by ANZHELINA POLONSKAYA
Translated from the Russian by ANDREW WACHTEL

Translator’s note:

Recreating the poetry of Anzhelina Polonskaya in English is tricky because her favorite poetic trope is ellipsis, which is easier to achieve in Russian. Russian, as an inflected language (like Latin), can place words in pretty much any order within a sentence, and the poet can use case endings to indicate the relationship of nouns to each other and adjectives to nouns. When something is left out of a sentence, the empty space can be filled in by the reader. Thus, a Russian poem, at least grammatically speaking, looks like a Lego construction, from which many blocks can be removed without destroying the structure. By contrast, English translations in our (almost) non-inflected language are more like houses of cards – and when you try to remove pieces of the grammatical structure the whole thing tends to fall down.

Anzhelina Polonskaya: Russian Poetry in Translation
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Review: Klotsvog by Margarita Khemlin

Novel by MARGARITA KHEMLIN

Translated from the Russian by LISA C. HAYDEN

Reviewed by OLGA ZILBERBOURG

Cover of Klostvog

The year is 1950 in Kiev. A twenty-year-old college student, Maya Klotsvog, falls in love with her professor, Viktor Pavlovich. He’s eight years older and married. One day, the professor’s wife, Darina Dmitrievna, catches up with Maya at the tram stop and reveals that her husband loves Maya and has asked for a divorce. He wants to marry Maya and have children with her. But Darina Dmitrievna adds something else: “You’re Jewish and your children would be half Jewish. And you yourself know what the situation is now. You read the papers, listen to the radio. And then that shadow would fall on Viktor Pavlovich himself, too. Anything can happen. Don’t you agree? Babi Yar over there is full of half-bloods.”

Review: Klotsvog by Margarita Khemlin
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Review: Like Water by Olga Zilberbourg

Book by OLGA ZILBERBOURG

Review by JUNE GERVAIS

Cover of Like Water

When I was nineteen and trying my hand at novel-writing for the first time, I found myself struggling with a story that alternated between two protagonists, a mother and a daughter. After reading my newest batch of pages, a beloved mentor observed that only the daughter was coming to life on the page. “There has to be more to this other woman than her role as a mother,” she said. I realize now that she was speaking from her own recent, still-raw experiences. “Try going back in time with the mother character,” she said. “Write a scene where she’s twenty, before she has a child, and see what she does. When you become a mother, your old self doesn’t disappear. All the parts of you that were there before are still there.”

Review: Like Water by Olga Zilberbourg
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Immigrant Ditty

By VLADIMIR GANDELSMAN

Translated from Russian by OLGA LIVSHIN and ANDREW JANCO

Poem appears in both Russian and English.

 

Translators’ Note:

Born in 1948, Vladimir Gandelsman is very much the literary child of the poets of the Russian Silver Age. He draws on their dramatic, spiritually intense version of modernism, the acme, or the highest point of expression, whether meditating on fleeting moments or on major historical events. His literary parents include Pasternak and Mandelstam. Proust and Wilde are his relatives: he draws on and develops their respective fascinations with the sensuous quality of everyday life. Gandelsman’s exquisite diction and surprising collages of words help us remember our own moments of heightened feeling.

Immigrant Ditty
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Into Air

By KENAN ORHAN

In Ivan’s bedroom are forty-seven photographs of beaches, rectangles of sand and sun. I count them every time I visit my friend, and he kisses them like beautiful women each night. He passes me a bottle of vodka and opens his own, and I follow him out into the hallway, and we ride the elevator to his roof with a view of Siberia. We step out into the night so full of sun.

Into Air
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Review: The Senility of Vladimir Putin

By MICHAEL HONIG
Reviewed by OLGA ZILBERBOURG

The senility of vladimir p

Nikolai Sheremetev, the protagonist of British novelist’s Michael Honig’s second book, is a Moscow nurse. For six years, he’s been looking after a private patient suffering from dementia. The patient’s condition is deteriorating. Prior to his illness, Vladimir P. had been a president of Russia. After his confusion grew and he could no longer hold his own in public, he was quietly replaced by a member of his team and sent into retirement to a private estate near Moscow. As Vladimir’s mental acuity deteriorated, Sheremetev became the single point of contact between him and the outside world. Sheremetev manages his daily schedule, his medications, his rare outings.

Review: The Senility of Vladimir Putin
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The Next Thief of Magadan

 

The luxe door had cost them everything. Oak, with wooden lace. It gave the impression there was more behind it than:

   one bed,
   one couch,
   one cupboard,
   one telephone,
   one twenty-year-old TV set at full volume, and
   two eighty-three-year-old women.
   He was the seventh thief in the last two years. They came as reliably as seasons.
The Next Thief of Magadan
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