Thursday, January 29, 2004

Solzhenitsyn gossip
(link via ALD)

The San Francisco Chronicle relays the details of the continuing literary feud between Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Olga Andreyev Carlisle, the woman who helped smuggle out, translate and publish The First Circle and The Gulag Archipelago.

The relationship between Carlisle, granddaughter of the writer Leonid Andreyev, and Solzhenitsyn dissolved in the 1970s, when he began to criticize her handling of the books. Carlisle has decided to publish her account of the relationship, Solzhenitsyn and the Secret Circle, in Russia for the first time after becoming aware of Solzhenitsyn's continuing criticism of her.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Irina Ratushinskaia

This past weekend at a local used bookstore I found a bilingual copy of A Tale of Three Heads by Irina Ratushinskaia, an Odessa-born Russian poet. The book is comprised of a couple dozen proze poems in the same vein as Ludmila Petrushevskaia's "fairy tales for adults," but more directly political. The stories are short and clever, mixing the banal and the fantastic. The title story is about a three-headed dragon. The heads agree to collectivize but then, in the resulting paranoid power struggle, one head eats the others. Other stories concern political arrests, blat (the Soviet system of bartering and influence peddling), and the difficulty of living honestly in a dishonest political system.

A dissident, Ratushinskaia was arrested in 1982 and sentenced to seven years in prison for charges related to her political activities. When A Tale of Three Heads was published in 1986, Ratushinskaia was still in prison, but she was released soon afterwords. She came to the United States in 1987 and her memoir, Grey is the Color of Hope, was published that year.

Ratushinskaia is often refered to as a Christian poet, but religion doesn't mark A Tale of Three Heads, perhaps because she became a devout Christian only in prison, and these stories were written before her arrest.

Some links:
short bio
essay on her Christianity
review of her novel Fiction and Lies
Publishers page for Wind of the Journey

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

New Shukshin film

So much for New Year's resolutions, huh? I guess I've been too engulfed in things closer to home to update this blog lately. Although I am working my way through Queen Ortuda, a strange mix of realpolitik and Disney princess magic.

Anyway, I learned today in my weekly email from that there is a new Russian film, "And they woke up in the morning..." based on an unfinished novela and several stories by Vasily Makarovich Shukshin coming soon to DVD.

Unfortunately, the Shukshin's classic "Snowball Berry Red (Kalina Krasnaya)" (which he wrote, directed and acted in--that's him in the upper right photo) is still only available in VHS and the European format DVD-PAL. I was lucky enough to see it on the big screen in a museum-theater in Moscow, and even though I couldn't understand all of it, Shukshin's portrayal of a parolled ex-con trying to reintegrate into society was incredibly moving.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

New Year's Resolutions

I will attempt to continue posting a couple times a week at least. I will also attempt to find more of interest regarding contemporary Russian-language authors, and I will attempt to read some of their work in Russian.

Also, I have gone back and added headlines to posts to aid navigation. I have also added a sidebar on what I am reading currently.
I appreciate any comments from readers, links to new sources, etc.
New Lara Vapnyar story

Lara Vapnyar has a new story in The New Yorker. The story, "Broccoli," is about a deteriorating marriage in a Russian-emigre community in New York. The story, like Vapnyar's recently published collection "There Are Jews in My House" was written in English (see earlier post).