Tag Archives: Dostoevsky

Finnegan’s List 2013

A feminist version of Don Juan, a 900-page work of Greek surrealism that is a mixture of Joyce, Freud and Breton, one of the best Russian novels of the 20th century  – and 27 more to go. The European Society of Authors released its third annual Finnegan’s List at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, with […]

Continue Reading

Leonid Tsypkin’s last few kilometers

There is something as poetic as it is sad that one of the great Russian-Jewish writers of the latter half of the 20th century worked as a pathologist (worked, that is, until the powers that be demoted and eventually fired him). The New Yorker has a very short story by the magnificent author of Summer […]

Continue Reading

The Darker Side of Reading

Does literature, and specifically reading novels, lead to a more tolerant and non-violent world? This seems to be the argument implied in Elaine Scarry’s unfortunately titled “Poetry Changed the World” in The Boston Review. Scarry writes about “literature’s capacity to reduce harm,” extrapolating her points from Steven Pinker’s much-publicized recent work of scholarly wishful thinking, […]

Continue Reading

Writing rules! (and might have some as well)

At Requited, Daniel Green writes a very interesting review of We Wanted to Be Writers: Life, Love and Literature at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. While definitely not being one of those MFA assassination pieces that have triggered such hot debate (I know that’s an exaggeration, but that’s how they’ve been referred and responded to) he […]

Continue Reading

Literary roundup: Russian literature in Asia

Writing in the Malay Insider, Erna Mahyuni compares government interference in Russia and Malaysia through the prism of her favorite author Mikhail Bulgakov. Where Putin’s Russia has a new anti-protest law, Malaysia has a peaceful assembly law. And where writers in Stalin’s Soviet Union were pushed towards acceptable themes and subjects to write about, the […]

Continue Reading

Literary confinement: Part III – On rock’n writing and the three-minute song

Part I of literary confinement dealt with the conformist aspect of needing to put translated literature into “the conversation” and what is lost when everyone reads virtually the same books. In Part II a couple critical takes on these issues from the world of theater were added to the mix, along with similarly conformist impulse […]

Continue Reading

Literary confinement: Part II – canon fodder and writing in the default mode

In a recent article on revivals of plays by Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter, Los Angeles Times theater critic Charles McNulty uses the occasion to identify some shortcomings in contemporary theater that apply equally, if not even more closely, to contemporary fiction. He distinguishes the work of these two modern greats not only in degree […]

Continue Reading

Literary roundup: Russia’s sacred monsters

Big Russian novels are in the air as of late. At The Millions eight experts weigh in on George Steiner’s Tolstoy or Dostoevsky question. I read Steiner’s book a fairly long time ago and don’t remember him actually answering that question, which seems to be the standard reaction among the experts. Actually, I think the […]

Continue Reading

Literary roundup: Russian writers in London and the literature of non-resilience

Having just published an article about Russian writers in Prague in the ‘20s (not to be confused with Prague in the ‘90s, which was supposedly Paris in the ‘20s as Paris in the ‘90s was too expensive to be anything but Paris in the ‘90s) I wanted to point out this broad historical look at […]

Continue Reading

Literary roundup: Dostoevsky’s warning from the other world and the Usedom Prize

The latest issue of the University of California at San Diego’s literature in translation magazine Alchemy includes Slovak actor/singer/writer Július Satinský’s Dostoevsky’s Letter translated by Magdalena Mullek. If you haven’t already been tempted to read it then a look at the story’s byline should more than convince you: “A letter from Fyodor Mikhailovich, of Great […]

Continue Reading