Fall Reading List: New Fiction and Memoir

Fall is officially in full swing. The weather is getting cooler and it’s about time to stay inside with a good book! This fall, we’re very pleased to supplement our scholarly publishing program with a strong list of exciting general interest books. Check out our Fall Reading List below, featuring several new and forthcoming books: a rare translation of Uzbek literature into English, a collection of contemporary Russian short stories, a translation of an award-winning memoir, and more.

New Fiction

Night and Day

Abdulhamid Sulaymon o’g’li Cho’lpon
Translated and introduced by Christopher Fort

Night (1934), the first novel of Abdulhamid Sulaymon o’g’li Cho’lpon’s unfinished dilogy of novels, Night and Day, gives readers a glimpse into the everyday struggles of men and women in Russian imperial Turkestan. More than just historical prose, Cho’lpon’s magnum opus reads as poetic elegy and turns on dramatic irony. Though it depicts the terrible fate of a young girl condemned to marry a sexual glutton, nothing is what it seems. Readers find themselves questioning the nature of women’s liberation, colonialism, resistance, and even the intentions of the author, whose life and sequel, Day, were lost to Stalinist terror.

21: Russian Short Prose from an Odd Century

Edited by Mark Lipovetsky

This collection of Russian short stories from the 21st century includes works by famous writers and young talents alike, representing a diversity of generational, gender, ethnic and national identities. Their authors live not only in Russia, but also in Europe and the US. Short stories in this volume display a vast spectrum of subgenres, from grotesque absurdist stories to lyrical essays, from realistic narratives to fantastic parables. Taken together, they display rich and complex cultural and intellectual reality of contemporary Russia, in which political, social, and ethnic conflicts of today coexist with themes and characters resonating with classical literature, albeit invariably twisted and transformed in an unpredictable way. Most of texts in this volume appear in English for the first time. 21 may be useful for college courses but will also provide exciting reading for anyone interested in contemporary Russia.

A Russian Immigrant: Three Novellas

Maxim D. Shrayer

Simon Reznikov, the Boston-based immigrant protagonist of Maxim D. Shrayer’s A Russian Immigrant, is restless. Unresolved feelings about his Jewish (and American) present and his Russian (and Soviet) past prevent Reznikov from easily putting down roots in his new country. A visit to a decaying summer resort in the Catskills, now populated by Jewish ghosts of Soviet history, which include a famous émigré writer, reveals to Reznikov that he, too, is a prisoner of his past. An expedition to Prague in search of clues for an elusive Jewish writer’s biography exposes Reznikov’s own inability to move on. A chance reunion with a former Russian lover, now also an immigrant living in an affluent part of Connecticut, unearths memories of Reznikov’s last Soviet summer while reanimating many contradictors of a mixed, Jewish-Russian marriage. These three interconnected novellas gradually reveal many layers of the characters’ Russian, Jewish, and Soviet identities. Set in Providence, New Haven and Boston, but also in places of the main character’s pilgrimages such as Estonia and Bohemia, Shrayer’s book weaves together a literary manifesto of Russian Jews in America.

The Raskin Family: A Novel

Dmitry Stonov
Translated by Konstantin Gurevich & Helen Anderson
with a forward and afterword by Leonid Stonov

Meyer Raskin is a wealthy Jewish entrepreneur running a large agricultural estate in Belarus on the western outskirts of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. His wife Chava feels out of place and yearns for the quiet life of a Jewish shtetl. Together they have six children, some of whom help their father on the estate, while others are more interested in pursuing education or getting involved in revolutionary politics. Their lives are interrupted first by the Russian revolution of 1905 and later by World War I, which eventually turns them all into refugees. This is an autobiographical novel based on the author’s family.

New Memoir

Where There Is Danger

Luba Jurgenson
Translated from the French by Meredith Sopher

Winner of the 2015 Prix Valery Larbaud

Writer, professor, translator and editor Luba Jurgenson lives between two languages—her native Russian and her adopted French. She recounts the coexistence of these two languages, as well as two bodies and two worlds, in an autobiographical text packed with fascinating anecdotes. Living bilingually can be uncomfortable, but this strange in-between state can equally serve as a refuge and inspire creativity. Jurgenson sheds light on this little-explored territory with lively prose and a keen awareness of her historical and literary context. Language, identity, translation, and the self: all are intertwined. The ceaseless journey of bilingualism is at last revealed.

Cheerful Memories/Troubled Years: A Story of a Refusenik’s Family in Leningrad and its Struggle for Immigration to Israel

Aba & Ida Taratuta

This book captures the story of the Taratuta family and their struggle to flee the hardships of the USSR and repatriate to Israel in the late twentieth century. The narrative follows the lives of three family members, Aba, his wife Ida, and their son Misha, as they endure countless struggles throughout their journey to freedom. Tense moments ensue as the refuseniks print copies of forbidden Zionist literature and textbooks, publicly support those detained in prison and the Gulag, organize scientific and legal seminars in their apartment, receive Western visitors, and secretly partake in weekly Hebrew lessons. Well-recognized in the West as central players in the Soviet Jewish movement in Leningrad throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the Taratutas underwent constant surveillance by the KGB until they were finally able to repatriate to Israel. In spite of their hardships, the family attempted to live a life of normalcy and to cherish moments of happiness and togetherness.