My Review of Akram Aylisli’s Farewell, Aylis

Here’s a new review I wrote for The Common of a remarkable book that comes to us from Azerbaijan, published thanks to the advocacy of its translator, Katherine E. Young,

Contemporary books emerging from post-Soviet countries often deal with the dehumanizing effect of the region’s systems of government on its victims, seeking to trace and partially redeem the psychological and physical harm many have suffered. For understandable reasons, few authors care to look at the perpetrators, at the people who committed murders and mass murders, informed on and denounced their neighbors. Yet, in the post-Soviet reality, often it’s these people and their descendants who have risen to the top, taken charge of the new nation states, and written their laws.

It is in this context that Akram Aylisli, in post-Soviet Azerbaijan, gathers together the three novellas and closing essay that comprise his “non-traditional novel,” Farewell, Aylis. Born in 1937, Aylisli achieved fame in the Soviet Union for his earlier trilogy People and Trees. Though pieces of this new, remarkable book have appeared in Russia, the collected Farewell, Aylis, published as a result of the efforts of his American translator, Katherine E. Young, does not yet exist in any other language.

Click here to read the rest of the review.

Doctor Sveta in Alaska Quarterly Review

I’m deaqr_vol34-web-439x662lighted to have a short story of mine, “Doctor Sveta,” in the current issue of Alaska Quarterly Review. Here’s the opening,

Doctor Sveta was twenty six years old when the Navy commissariat summoned her to Leningrad and put her on a cargo ship among a motley crew of agronomists, agricultural engineers, livestock breeders, and tractor drivers, none of whom knew where the ship was headed or how long the journey might take. Her fellow passengers looked as confused at finding themselves confined to a seafaring vehicle as Doctor Sveta felt. No tractors accompanied them; not a cow, not even a single chicken. The agronomists and tractor drivers were healthy young men and a few women, two of them visibly pregnant. Doctor Sveta had been trained as a surgeon in Leningrad; she assumed it was in this capacity she’d been recalled from her post at a hospital in Minsk, Belarus. Besides the ship’s medic, there were no doctors aboard and not even a basic medical facility. Doctor Sveta worried she’d have to embrace a crash course in obstetrics.

Half a century later, as she tells me this story, Doctor Sveta . . .

This is a print magazine. To read the story, please buy the issue.