The New Soviet Fiction: Sixteen Short Stories

Sergei Zalygin, Author Abbeville Press $26.95 (396p) ISBN 978-0-89659-881-2
Although billed by the publisher as the ``literary voice of glasnost,'' this collection of 16 short stories by main-stream writers harkens back to the literary themes of the 19th and early 20th centuries more than it explores new styles of fiction. In ``Pushkin's Photograph,'' the immensely talented Andrei Bitov spins a complicated, experimental narrative about a time-traveller who goes into the past to meet Pushkin. The Azerbaijani writer and critic Elchin deftly describes the dynamics of a Muslim family in ``Auto Accident in Paris.'' Georgian writer Bulat Okdzhava's ``The Art of Needles and Sins'' recounts the great length a small village schoolmaster goes to in the economically bleak 1950s to acquire a leather coat and a veneer of respectability. A disappointment is Valentin Rasputin's reflective, but not particularly original ``What Should I Tell the Crow?'' in which the narrator's relationships to his family, nature and, finally, God are revealed like ripples in a pond. The quality of the translations is uneven, but the top-notch and even-handed selection by Zalygin, editor of the literary journal, Novy Mir , makes this collection valuable both as reference guide and anthology. (June)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
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