Translation by Steven Volynets

Ilya Ilf, born Iehiel-Leyb Arnoldovich Faynzilberg, was a Soviet literary icon famous for two satirical novels, The Twelve Chairs and The Little Golden Calf, all co-authored with Yevgeniy Petrov (Yevgeniy Kataev). They are among the most widely read and quoted books in the Russian language. Before teaming up with Petrov, Ilf wrote hundreds of his own short stories, essays, editorials, and war dispatches. Most remain obscure and untranslated. Ilf was born in Odessa in 1897 and died in 1937.

When thinking about the onset of literary modernism, the name Ilya Ilf is unlikely to come up. In fact, "Fisherman of the Glass Battalion" and his countless other stories remain mostly obscure even to his Russian-language readers. That's because most of Ilf's work would eventually be eclipsed by the success of those two satirical novels. Another reason is that Ilf, a believer in Leninist vision, also explored themes of Jewish mysticism, which made some of his work too ideologically subjective once Stalin took the reigns of the USSR.   

Posted on February 25, 2016 .

Haroldo Conti's MASCARÓ, THE AMERICAN HUNTER, An Excerpt

Translation by Julia Leverone

Gabriel García Márquez wrote that Haroldo Conti was one of Argentina’s greatest writers. Mascaró, the American Hunter was his final published work. The novel won the 1975 Casa de las Américas Prize, and the following year, it was designated by the military dictatorship as subversive. Conti was captured and brutally tortured, becoming one of Argentina’s disappeared at the age of fifty-one.

Posted on February 25, 2016 .


Translation by C.M. Mayo

Today thunderclaps woke me, although it wasn’t raining. I know this because I did not hear the patter of rain, that sound that cleans the glass when the sun comes off the sea. From my room I can hear Mother’s cries; I hear my father talking on the phone. His voice sounds strange. It slips through the keyhole and hits my stomach like a whirlpool. There is something I don’t like; a bubbling of adrenaline rushes through my veins. I feel as if I’ve swallowed a whole table and the wood is in the hollows of my bones. Mother shouts at me to get away from the window but the wood won’t let me bend my knees. 

Posted on February 24, 2016 .