Stravaging “Strange” (Russian Library)
There’s a lot to unpack with this book. Unpublishable under Stalin, Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky has been called one of the greatest Russian writers of the last century. His book, Stravaging Strange, translated by Joanne Turnbull with Nikolai Formozov, includes a series of short stories.
The first story, “Stravaging Strange,” tells of a lovesick magus who imbibes a potion that shrinks him down to the size of a dust mote. In “Catastrophe,” a ruthless sage makes a serious and deeply affective decision in effort to understand reality. And an otherworldly outsider faces a ridiculous trial in “Material for a Life of Gorgis Katafalaski.” But perhaps most revealing are the excerpts from the author’s notebooks and the afterword written by his companion, Anna Bovshek, describing the man himself.
Overall, this volume of Krzhizhanovsky’s surrealistic fiction won’t suit causal readers. It is definitely equal to the comparisons to Kafka. But it’s also a richly rewarding read with great depths to mine for the dedicated reader. In the rich feast that is 20th century Russian literature, Krzhizhanovsky should not be forgotten.
|Columbia University Press
|Buy this Book