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."

 

Tags: Shishkin Deep Vellum Calligraphy Lesson Russian literature Russia Beyond the Headlines Marian Schwartz World Literature Today

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