Tuesday, September 12, 2006

GALOSH Briefly Noted in the 9/18 NEW YORKER

Thanks, O great and powerful monocule guy & butterfly! Check out the sweet review of Zoshchenko in translation!--Jim

The Galosh
by Mikhail Zoshchenko, translated from the Russian by Jeremy Hicks (Overlook; $24.95) Though little known to English readers, Zoshchenko was one of the most popular writers in early Soviet Russia--a time when, as Hicks explains in a useful introduction to this collection of brief comic tales, satire was not yet prohibited by the authorities. Describing himself as "a temporary substitute for the proletarian writer," Zoshchenko wrote in a deliberately simple style, filling his pages with corrupt officials, petty thieves, and confused bureaucrats. Hicks fine translations overcome tricky problems--one denouement involves "Paris" being misread as a word written in Cyrillic--and successfully capture Zoshchenko's knock-about use of everyday speech. Zoshchenko brought out the latent comedy of people's adaptation to new ways. In one story, the electrification of an apartment building upsets residents who previously, thanks to the gloom, had not been able to see the squalor in which they lived.

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