The Galosh and Other Stories

Mikhail Zoschenko, Author, Jeremy Hicks, Translator
Mikhail Zoschenko, Author, Jeremy Hicks, Translator , trans. from the Russian by Jeremy Hicks. Overlook $24.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-58567-631-6
Reviewed on: 05/08/2006
Release date: 09/01/2006
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Satirist Zoschenko (1896–1958) began publishing his topical, colloquial short stories to wild popularity in Soviet newspapers beginning in 1923; many appear here in English for the first time, in Hicks's lively, masterful translation. The title story pursues a train passenger's dogged retrieval of his lost galosh through the numbing bureaucracy of the fledgling Soviet state. He triumphantly regains the galosh and cherishes it as a Soviet victory—despite losing the other in the shuffle. Zoschenko often employs a provincial narrator and candidly naïve tone to underscore the corruption, venality and backsliding rampant in the state's transformation to communism. In the 1924 story "Electrification," named for the fashionable slogan of Soviet modernization, electricity brings dazzling enlightenment to one apartment house, but reveals such shabbiness and costly need of repairs that the landlady cuts it off. In "Nervous People" (1925), communal housing engenders full-scale battles among the touchy, paranoid residents, while the repeated and arbitrary renaming of a cruise steamer in "An Incident on the Volga" (1934–1935) digs at whimsical political name-changing. Hicks offers 65 short, slyly edifying stories in all, with a substantive introduction that details the literary and historical context. (Aug. 1)

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