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80 article(s) translated from Russian

Grandmother’s Little Hut

An Unfinished Play In Andrei Platonov’s unfinished play from 1938, two young orphans seek out their promised land.   Characters DUSYA, an orphan TATYANA FILIPPOVNA, DUSYA’s aunt ARCHAPOV ARKADY, the aunt’s husband MITYA, an orphan MITYA’s UNCLE A YOUNG WOMAN, the uncle’s girlfriend   ACT 1 Scene 1 (A room in the small old house of a tradesman. A dresser. Above it are photographs of the owners’ relatives; on it stand aging souvenirs and...

[The whole soldier doesn’t suffer]

The whole soldier doesn’t suffer— it’s just the legs, the arms, just blowing snow, just meager rain. The whole soldier shrugs off hurt— it’s just missile systems “Hail” and “Beech,” just bullets on the wing, just happiness ahead. Just meteorological pogroms, geo-Herostratos wannabes, just the girl with the pointer poking the map in the stomach. Just thunder, lightning, just dreadful losses, just the day with a dented helmet, just God,...

Jackdaw on a Snowdrift

Crack! The night drained dry by sleeplessness. The din of plumbing in my head. A March morning, blue-gray tinged pink. Crack! All the soot of night is in me. Flowers, post office, bank, food. The day looms. She wanted to give me a picture of Father. Crack! What a nightmare. A mechanical rook on every street. Ice picks and spades scraping. Gravel wormholes in the snow. Granules grinding underfoot. My legs grow longer with every step. My body sprouts eyes. A heap of some kind drags into...

Slaves of Moscow

On October 30, 2012, a group of civil society activists in Moscow freed twelve slaves from the Produkty grocery store, owned by a Kazakhstani couple, Zhansulu Istanbekova and her husband, Saken Muzdybayev. Nearly all of those released were women from the city of Shymkent in Kazakhstan, which is also Istanbekova’s hometown. Istanbekova had at various times invited them to Moscow to work in her store. Once there, they had been robbed of their passports and forced to work without pay for...

from “Adam’s Apple”

Georgii Izmailov, a successful St. Petersburg businessman, attends the glitzy, high-profile presentation of his own latest project, the largest business center in the city, together with his business partners and colleagues. Igor Voevodin, a young male model working for the agency organizing the event, catches his eye, and events develop rapidly.    On the sixth floor they were met by stewards who gave them little pink tickets for the lottery and showed them through into the...

Texts Written without the Author’s Knowledge

The screech of streetcars falls silent. Juice trickles from a windfall pomegranate branching— as though a monster had grown through the rails or lung tissue rotted and the bronchi and vessels of a woolly and leathery body were bared. Vladimir goes to Crimea. He is seduced by Alimeh. Alexey marries Venus. Saturn isn't eating. Deported adolescents become integrated into society. Pulpy prejudice follows, then yummy nebulae, translucent excesses, affinities bitten off. How is this...

from “The Good Life Elsewhere”

Mingir, a village in the Hincesti region, was famous throughout Moldova for its residents, who habitually trafficked in kidneys. What’s more, the kidneys were their own. There were already thirty such people in the town. Once in a while a correspondent for the BBC, Radio Liberty, or Der Speigel would come to town, since every six months their bosses would demand a scandal. So they’d do a story on Mingir. For a bottle of cognac, reporters filled each other in on the town and its...

Traders

Back in the early 1990s, when Wild-West capitalism came to Russia, I was a chelnok, or shuttle trader. My wife and I (we weren’t married at that stage) traveled the whole world in search of cheap merchandise and markets to sell it at. Well, not exactly the whole world—but almost. The most common way of doing business was to buy merchandise in Russia, take it to Poland, sell it for ten or fifteen times as much, and get hold of dollars at a good rate; then you traveled to China,...

On the Moscow Metro and Being Gay

In the catalogue of sins in his Divine Comedy, which is as random as it is insanely detailed, Dante found room for the sin that “dared not speak its name” long before Oscar Wilde’s trial—one of which Dante’s beloved guardian and tutor Brunetto Latini was also guilty. (He placed such sinners in the Seventh Circle of Hell, near the suicides and usurers, but above thieves and bribe-takers.) I always wished that Dante had added another sin, one which probably...

On Uladzimir Niakliaeu

I recently read something that amused me: one poet was suggesting that we name a steamship after every one of his contemporaries. In his imagination, all his friends from the literary world took the shape of a liner, a yacht, or a sailing ship, or even a cruiser. They sailed through the ocean and made a powerful fleet. How about some nuclear submarines with poets’ names on them, too? . . .  And then I read Uladzimir Niakliaeu’s new book. And what I found there was not a...

from “Butterfly Skin”

It is good to kill in winter. Especially if it has snowed overnight, and the ground is covered with a delicate blanket of white. You put the bound naked body on it. The blood from the wounds flows more freely in the cold frosty air, and the warmth of life departs with it. If you are lucky and she does not die too quickly, she will see the solid film of ice cover what was flowing through her veins so recently. Red on white, there is no more beautiful combination than that. They say...

Petroleum Venus

“Vanya, why are you sitting in the dark?” “I’m looking at the picture,” came the imperturbable reply. “What picture?” What new fantasy had come into his mind? I walked up behind him and put a hand on his shoulder. A picture frame he had brought in off the street was propped against our pot-bellied fridge. It had a picture in it. I flicked the switch and warm light flowed down from our tumblerlike lampshades. A naked blonde, her...

Melanch

It was a winter morning when the Tangerine King rolled into my room. He was perfectly round and had a golden crown on his head. Otherwise I wouldn’t have recognized him. I didn’t know the reason for his visit; he had probably grown tired of his narrow plastic box, or fed up with his servants. I wasn’t expecting such an important guest, and as soon as I detected the scent of plantation—the sweat of thousands of hands colored with an orange hint of...

An Orange Lemon

Her day was not going well. Her cap had fallen in the dirt, and there was a gaping hole in the sleeve of her T-shirt. She hadn’t even felt it snag on anything.  And there was an angry bruise just above her elbow. Where had that come from? Not noticing a torn sleeve was one thing, but to have hurt her arm and not even feel it? It gave you pause for thought. Maria sat in the grass and thought listlessly to herself. There was nothing else to do. Everyone had scattered in search of...

Old Fazyl’s Advice

“One ought not to cause offense to people,” said Old Fazyl. “I try never to offend anyone. And one ought not to quarrel with people; it is dangerous to speak unkindly to them. Even if you are their master, you must not curse them, especially if they do not consider themselves guilty.”   “Because God will punish you?” asked little Hania. “God’s punishment comes through the hands of the insulted,” said Fazyl, sighing....

From Resurrection to Sunday

from  resurrection to sunday  we cross off dates on the calendar waiting for salvation   it comes in an appearance of mountain air in the gas chamber of a city   silvery ants drag stones up to the summit rub against steel sides   itching tracks left on the neck from a tight collar   under quilted clouds   © Aigerim Tazhi. By arrangement with the...

None of Your Business

For a long time the fact that the Krivovs drank was something only their son knew. When it began, Yurka had just started first grade. In the beginning, the Krivovs were embarrassed by their disease and drank together in their smoked-up apartment.   Perched on the windowsill behind the curtain, Yurka would draw squiggles on his writing assignments, memorize the poem about "the forest, like a tower chamber painted" to the sound of his parents' droning, and glue colored paper...

Hello?

Have you ever traveled in an overcrowded bus? Rammed up against the window with your cheek squashed against the glass and the handrail bruising your ribs? No need to answer. Of course you have. No, really, I’m not being rude. Why am I asking? Because I need somewhere to start and that was the setting of the incident which set off the thoughts which underlie this narrative.  All right? So I got on a bus. Well no, I didn’t just get on. I forced my way in like a digger...

An Uncoincidence, a Noncoincidence

An uncoincidence, a noncoincidence. Oh, how broad are the earth’s estates, oh, how unthinkable is grace here. How unobtrusive is God's care, how many reasons to sob inconsolably. You thirst for communication—the time is mute. You thirst for flight—unflyable weather. You thirst for an answer—a blind wall, stagnant water, swampy duckweed and someone’s cold...

Drawings on a Soccer Ball

the last name of the player on the german team translates into russian as pig crawling up a blond graceful creature the polish boys got lost at the equator with nothing to breathe amidst the qualifying south american auschwitz the polish boys will asphyxiate doubly poplar down a million white fluffy unofficial balls and none of them counts eleven glasses of islam drown in mexican tequila they say that in the daniel defoe novel the round island of tobago there was...

Soul, you are a street

Soul, you are a street, leading into rain from the outskirts full of dry leaves: it is more humid closer to the central plaza—        I am a paving block and slipperiness.   Between the tight boulders the water weakly beats, like the rataplan of an injured regiment—the grass and leaves of past warm years hide there.   The quieted footsteps will not disturb us: the nervous race has all but fully spilled and hidden in the...

Just Gone to Bed

Just gone to bed Oh well, not turning the light on Barefoot Jerking the shin back from the cold rim And nothing Something gripes inside and However I strain doesn’t come Remembered in horror M.P. telling how adenoma they reach it with a cutter through the urethra good gracious to the bathroom not feeling the pain hit the toes against the door jamb okay okay here’s a toothbrush with aero- dynamic handle squatting push it furiously into the rear up and down...

Babel in Paris

Babel loved plump women. Where there’s lots of flesh there’s lots of sweetness. Lots of warmth, heat, tenderness, there’s a caress of sunshine and a velvety splash of the sea. In the damp, spongy folds of skin and in the large soft breasts, whether at rest or swaying gently in motion, there’s the comfort of a gently rocking cradle. French women—take your pick—were thin and wiry, coquettish and agile like monkeys.Hard to keep your eye on them. They...

From 2017

That night, under the muffled, machine-like sound of the rain, the professor dreamed that this woman had come to him. Naked and very skinny, she was as perfect as a Latin letter, a sample of a special human typeface. Tucking up her angular elbow, she lay on her back, and her belly was as white as a mug of milk. There was nothing special in the lizard-narrow creature, but all the beauty on the banks of the corundum river had been a preface to this body, to the maddening shadow under her...

From “The Geographer Drank His Globe Away”

"Hey young fellow, it's your stop . . ." Sluzhkin was being prodded by the old guy on the opposite bench. He unglued his eyes, sprang onto his knees still in his sleeping bag, and shot a look through the upper window pane, because the lower one was thickly overgrown with a dense cover of icy ferns. The lopsided, gray little houses of Valyozhnaya were undulating past the electric train, across the hillside. "Code red, gang!" Sluzhkin roared. "We nearly missed Valyozhnaya!" The...

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