Like Water & Other Stories

I’m delighted to announce my first collection of stories in English, Like Water and Other Stories, will appear later this year from WTAW Press. This news is all the more gratifying because I’ve been a fan and a supporter of this press from their beginning a few years ago, and have loved every book they have put out so far. Check out their website, and here’s the announcement.

“To Understand Russia’s Complexities, Turn to Its Contemporary Literature”

Epiphany published a blog post I wrote, highlighting three fascinating recent translations from Russian.

A FRIEND’S TEN-YEAR-OLD SON son recently came up to me at a party to ask, “You’re from Russia, right?” Sensing caution in my assent, the boy hesitated before asking the next question, clearly trying to phrase it in a way that wouldn’t cause offense but would express his curiosity. He finally came up with, “It’s a very violent place, isn’t it?”

Whenever I’m asked to summarize the entire country of Russia at a party, I invariably recall a scene from a popular Soviet movie…

Click here to read the piece.

Companionship short listed for Brilliant Short Fiction Award

My flash fiction “Companionship,” which  won the Litquake contest last year, was short listed for “Wow Us” contest by Brilliant Flash Fiction. The magazine published it on their website here. Scroll down to read my story that begins with this:

At three years old Michael did decide to return to his mother’s stomach. His mother shifted things around and made room under her heart. . . .

Футбол в джунглях

Мой рассказ “Футбол в джунглях” напечатан в июльском номере журнала “Нева”.  Рассказ целиком можно прочитать тут. Спасибо редактору Александру Мелихову за эту публикацию, и отдельная благодарность Сергею Князеву за вдохновение и помощь в публикации этого рассказа, а также за публикацию отрывка из рассказа на сайте NevaSport.ru.

Рассказ начинается примерно так:

Гида по Амазонке звали Луисвальдо, не самое сложное из попавшихся нам в Бразилии имен, но в голове все время вертелось и чуть не срывалось с губ: Леонкавалло. Было в этом смуглом, упитанном молодом человеке что-то от оперного певца. Казалось, его звонкий, раскатистый голос и преувеличенные жесты предназначены для галерки: их охват явно превышал размах одной моторной лодки на восемь человек. Луисвальдо передал управление лодкой своему помощнику Родриго, мальчику лет тринадцати, сидевшему сзади на руле, а сам глушил пиво и на приличном английском скармливал нам байки о жизни в джунглях и о своей сложной судьбе. Одновременно c не меньшим энтузиазмом он разглагольствовал о проходившем в эти дни по всей Бразилии чемпионате мира по футболу. Мне вспоминался трагический клоун из «Паяцев».

— У меня была возможность попасть на первый матч в Манаусе, — хвастался Луисвальдо. Но я не мог оставить работу. Я тут сейчас вроде как за главного. Босс поехал на чемпионат. Он страшный фанат. — Видите ту корову, да вот же, спустилась попить? — вдруг перебил себя Луисвальдо. — Смотрите, а вон там, левее, из воды торчат два глаза. Это кайман ее подстерегает.

Улли повернулся поглядеть, куда указал Луисвальдо. Кайман выскочил из воды и попытался схватить неосторожную корову за ногу. Улли аж подпрыгнул на месте. Я засмеялась, а корова невозмутимо махнула хвостом и отбежала на несколько шагов.

— Зря старается, коровы быстрее кайманов и сильнее. Напрасно только пасть разевает, — объяснил Луисвальдо.

Продолжение на стр. 148 вот в этом PDF файле!

 

Review of The Consequences by Niña Weijers, trans. by Hester Velmans

I’m delighted to have this review up on The Common. It took longer to write than I had anticipated, in part, because every time I returned to this book, there was more to say about it. So many fascinating layers!

Outstanding books often have a way of catching the reader by surprise, one insight, one unexpected narrative shift at a time. Niña Weijers, a debut novelist from the Netherlands, begins her book as a character study of her protagonist, Minnie Panis. Minnie is a conceptual artist of growing international reputation, whose career has been built on acts of public self-abnegation.  With each turn of the page, Weijers extends her subject and thematic reach, keeping her protagonist in focus while exploring contemporary art, mysticism, Mayan beliefs, and early childhood development (among other themes) to enrich our understanding of Minnie’s character and the forces that govern her life.

Minnie’s story is told by an omniscient narrator who documents Minnie’s history of “disappearances”: moments of near death and of extreme out of body experiences, all of which Hester Velmans, an NEA fellowship recipient for translation, has rendered to strong effect in plain and unpretentious language. The prologue introduces us to Minnie in February, 2012 when she falls through a frozen lake in Amsterdam. This is described as a deliberate gesture—not a suicide attempt, but rather a Houdini-like disappearing act, Minnie’s third. But why such a radical performance? The ensuing narrative leads us on an investigation. . . .

Read the rest of this review here.

 

Helen More’s Suicide in Feminist Studies

44-1_cover_homepageMy story “Helen More’s Suicide” has been published in the current issue of Feminist Studies and is available on JSTOR. The piece was originally inspired by the biography of Carolyn Gold Heilbrun, a scholar and a feminist who wrote mystery novels under pseudonym Amanda Cross, though in drafts the association became very loose.

Here’s the beginning of the story:

My retired colleague Marguerite called to tell me of Helen More’s suicide. “Of all the sad, ludicrous things people do to themselves!”

She invited me over. “Thursday night, as usual. I could use the company of younger people.”

It had been about a year since I’d first been invited to these Thursdays—monthly literary and musical soirees Marguerite hosted in her living room. Helen had been a regular at Marguerite’s for several decades; the two women were close contemporaries and each a celebrity in her own field. Helen was scholar of the English Romantics at the same university where Marguerite had taught Flaubert, Zola, and Balzac, and where I was now a junior faculty member in the English department. I’d heard of Professor More long before I met her: she lectured at the university from the 1960s until being forced into retirement in 2006 ostensibly
due to age. She had a reputation as a militant feminist who eagerly engaged in battles about appointments and promotions, and her politics could have had something to do with it.

To read the rest, log in via your library (through JSTOR) or buy a copy here.