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Marian Schwartz

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Marian Schwartz has translated over sixty volumes of Russian classic and contemporary fiction, history, biography, criticism, and fine art. She is the principal English translator of the works of Nina Berberova and translated the New York Times’ bestseller The Last Tsar, by Edvard Radzinsky, as well as classics by Mikhail Bulgakov, Ivan Goncharov, Yuri Olesha, and Mikhail Lermontov. Her most recent publications are Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, Andrei Gelasimov's Rachel, Daria Wilke's Playing a Part, and half the stories in Mikhail Shishkin's Calligraphy Lesson: The Collected Stories. She is a past president of the American Literary Translators Association and the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts translation fellowships, as well as the 2014 Read Russia Prize for Contemporary Russian Literature.



Shishkin Collection Attracts Year-End Attention

calligraphylessoncoverAs 2015 draws to a close, Mikhail Shishkin's Calligraphy Lesson: The Collected Stories (Deep Vellum), has been getting some lovely attention.  

World Literature Today has put it on its list of 75 Notable Translations of 2015, and Russia Beyond the Headlines has added it to its "Christmas Feast of Russian Books." Phoebe Taplin writes:

Marian Schwartz and others have translated these works, which are "the perfect introduction to Russia's greatest ... contemporary author." The 1993 short story "Calligraphy Lesson" was Shishkin's first published work. Like the narrator in Maidenhair, legal scribe and calligraphy teacher Evgeny hears harrowing stories every day and transmutes them into art. The most recent piece in the book, "Nabokov's Inkblot" written in 2013, is an accessible tale of money, culture and compromise. Along with stories, in Shishkin's characteristically dense and allusive prose, there are autobiographical fragments, like "The Half-Belt Overcoat", which revisits his mother's death and the process of writing The Taking of Izmail, due out in English next year. The volume ends with the breathtakingly brilliant essay on language, "In a Boat Scratched on a Wall", where the author argues for the redemptive power of literature, "a link between two worlds."


Join Me for Russian Literature Week, December 7-11, 2015!

Russian LIterature Week is now in its second year, and it just keeps getting better!  

Read Russia is bringing three of Russia's best contemporary authors to New York for the week:

Eugene Vodolazkin, author of Laurus, will be appearing twice, including with his fine translator Lisa Hayden.

Vladimir Sharov, author of Before and During, will be in conversation with his translator, Oliver Ready, laureate of the 2015 Read Russia Prize.

And Leonid Yuzefovich, author of Harlequin's Costume, which I translated and for which I won the 2014 Read Russia Prize for Contemporary Russian Literature, will be interviewed by Vadim Yarmolinets.

I'll be appearing with Peter Finn, coauthor of The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book, at Poets House on Tuesday evening, December 8, and

with Peter Constantine at Book Culture on Thursday evening, December 10, to talk about Solzhenitsyn's untranslated oeuvre.

You can find full details on times and places by clicking here.

Cynsations: Daria Wilke's "Playing a Part"

PlayingAPart coverCynsations--"a source for conversations, publishing information, writer resources & inspiration, bookseller-librarian-teacher appreciation, children's-YA book news & author outreach"--has interviewed me about my recent foray into YA lit: Playing a Part, by Daria Wilke.

This novel spotlights traditional puppets, especially the Jester in a version of Cinderella. Is the lexicon of puppets embedded in everyday Russian, or did you have to learn from scratch about gesso and leg yokes, ruches and chiton, controllers and crossbars?

I knew nothing about the technical aspect of puppets when I began this project, but that's one of the perks of being a translator: the research required to make a translation correct and complete. It's easy to get (happily) lost learning about a new field. I read books about puppetmaking and consulted with puppeteers. I did extensive Internet image searches. There are books that require no research at all, but they're very rare.

Check it out!

"Walpurgis Night" a Finalist for AATSEEL Translation Prize

Walpurgis Night coverLast year, Yale University Press published my translation of Venedikt Erofeev's play, Walpurgis Night, or the Steps of the Commander, one of a very few works Erofeev completed before his relatively early death and never published as a book in English before. Plays are hard to draw attention to, but I'm happy to announce that my translation is a finalist for AATSEEL's translation prize--to me, a meaningful piece of recognition because it comes from Slavists, who have background and context to appreciate a book like this.

For the non-Slavists among you, WN is often compared to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, in that it's set in an insane asylum and has political overtones, except here with Shakespearean elements--the protagonist has a bad tendency to lapse into "Shakespearean iambs" and at play's end the stage is littered with alcohol-poisoned corpses. All-round entertainment.