New and Novel

There is a some environmental and personal catastrophe in Kazakhstan and a story in interwar Central Europe ending in a journey to the concentration camps. Then a very different journey from Moldova pointing towards the promised land of Italy, some Ottoman intrigue and conversations with Orhan Pamuk, and three works by Chekhov.

 

 

 

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The Dead Lake by Hamid Ismailov

A haunting Russian tale about the environmental legacy of the Cold War.

Yerzhan grows up in a remote part of Kazakhstan where the Soviets tests atomic weapons. As a young boy he falls in love with the neighbour’s daughter and one evening, to impress her, he dives into a forbidden lake. The radio-active water changes Yerzhan. He will never grow into a man. While the girl he loves becomes a beautiful woman.

Translated by Andrew Bromfield

Published by Pereine Press

Read more about the book here

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The Little Trilogy by Anton Chekhov

Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) is universally regarded as a master of the short story, and nowhere is his rich contribution to the genre on fuller display than in the so-called Little Trilogy (1898): “The Man in a Case,” “Gooseberries,” and “About Love.” These interconnected stories reflect the entire range of his gifts, his ability to hold comedy in balance with tragedy, to wrest beauty from ugliness, and to transform the pathetic into the sublime. Written rather late in his career, the Little Trilogy also serves as a kind of artistic autobiography, charting the evolution of his own approach to story-telling from humorous caricature, to Tolstoyan sentimentality, to a uniquely Chekhovian study of “individual cases,” in which generalities are dispensed with and judgment is withheld.

Translated by Boris Dralyuk

Published by Calypso Editions

Read more about the book here

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Hamam Balkania by Vladislav Bajac

This is a book that lives in two parts – one set in the Ottoman empire of the 16th century, and the other in our own 21st century reality. Here we have the story of two friends, both taken as children from their homes and inducted into the Turkish Sultan’s private guard: Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, the Serbian shepherd boy who rose to the position of Grand Vizier and Koca Mimar Sinan, the ‘Michelangelo of the East’. Between them they represent both destruction and creation, while at the same time providing us with a harrowing insight into the heart of religion and identity. Back in our own time, we hear the voice of the author, sharing with us his experiences in the modern world, and his musings on faith, identity and nation. This is a truly ambitious book that rewards the reader with insights into some of the great questions of our time.

Translated by Randall A. Major

Published by Istros Books

Read more about the book here

Read an excerpt in B O D Y

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Aaron’s Leap by Magdaléna Platzová

In a Europe torn by war and revolution, Berta Altmann comes of age as a gifted artist and independent woman. Her search for freedom leads her from Vienna to the Bauhaus school, Weimar Berlin, and Prague. As she encounters the celebrated artists of her time, she engages in aesthetic and ideological battles that will prove to have life-and-death consequences. Based on the real-life story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis who taught art to children in the Nazi transport camp of Terezín and died in Auschwitz, Aaron’s Leap is framed by the lens of a 21st-century Israeli film crew that unknowingly unleashes the haunting force of buried history.

Translated by Craig Cravens

Published by Bellevue Literary Press

Read more about the book here

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The Good Life Elsewhere by Vladimir Lorchenkov

The Good Life Elsewhere is a very funny book. It is also a very sad one. Moldovan writer Vladimir Lorchenkov tells the story of a group of villagers and their tragicomic efforts, against all odds and at any cost, to emigrate from Europe’s most impoverished nation to Italy for work. This is a book with wild imagination and heartbreaking honesty, grim appraisals alongside optimistic commentary about the nature of human striving. In Lorchenkov’s uproarious tale, an Orthodox priest is deserted by his wife for an art-dealing atheist; a rookie curling team makes it to an international competition; a mechanic redesigns his tractor for travel by air and sea; thousands of villagers take to the road on a modern-day religious crusade to make it to the promised land of Italy; meanwhile, politicians remain politicians. Like many great satirists from Voltaire to Gogol to Vonnegut, Lorchenkov makes use of the grotesque to both horrify us and help us laugh. It is not often that stories from forgotten countries such as Moldova reach us in the English-speaking world. A country where 25 percent of its population works abroad, where remittances make up nearly 40 percent of the GDP, where alcohol consumption per capita is the highest in the world, and which has the lowest per capita income in all of Europe – this is a country that surely has its problems. But, as Lorchenkov vividly shows, it’s a country whose residents don’t easily give up.

Translated by Ross Ufberg

Published by New Vessel Press

Read more about the book here

Read an excerpt in B O D Y

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