Soviet Women Writing: Fifteen Short Stories

I. Grekova, Author, Zoya Boguslavskaya, With Abbeville Press $26.95 (351p) ISBN 978-0-89659-882-9
The Russians have a special word, byt , to describe the daily demands put on women; their harried, often heroic existence figures prominently in almost all the 15 stories collected here. Tatyana Tolstaya ( On the Golden Porch ) is represented by ``Sleepwalker in a Fog,'' an excellent though garish tale about a brooding intellectual prone to nightmares, and his vivacious fiancee--whose devotion to her father sometimes goes to extremes. Grekova (a pseudonym for Yelena Sergeyevna) contributes the grittily realistic ``Masters of Their Own Lives'': while on a business trip, the narrator learns of the horrifying fate that befell her traveling companion during Stalin's purges--and of the indomitable wills of the women who loved him and ultimately saved him. Equally good is Galina Kornilova's folkloric ``The Ostrabramsky Gate,'' describing how one woman saved the Jewish children in her Lithuanian village from the Nazis. In ``Five Figures on a Pedestal'' Victoriya Tokareva presents an interesting twist on the conventional love triangle, telling of a newspaper editor who is torn between her husband, an alcoholic, and a simple villager she meets while on the road. Some stories are downright silly--Nataliya Ilina's ``Repairing Our Car'' about the extortionist practices of Soviet garage mechanics--and a wide range of literary talent is represented. But on the whole this survey of post-WW II Soviet women writers is of interest for that very sense of byt , or slice of life, that it provides so generously. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
Genre: Fiction
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