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"A welcome volume of stories from Russia's finest contemporary fiction writer, Mikhail Shishkin, full of his typical fusing of mysticism and modernist experimentation." --Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
The first English-language collection of short stories by Russia's greatest contemporary author, Mikhail Shishkin, the only author to win all three of Russia's most prestigious literary awards.
Often included in discussions of Nobel Prize contenders, Shishkin is a master prose writer in the breathtakingly beautiful style of the greatest Russian authors, known for complex, allusive novels about universal and emotional themes. Shishkin's stories read like modern versions of the eternal literature written by his greatest inspirations: Boris Pasternak, Ivan Bunin, Leo Tolstoy, and Mikhail Bulgakov.
Shishkin's short fiction is the perfect introduction to his breathtaking oeuvre, his stories touch on the same big themes as his novels, spanning discussions of love and loss, death and eternal life, emigration and exile.
Calligraphy Lesson spans Shishkin's entire writing career, including his first published story, the 1993 Debut Prize-winning "Calligraphy Lesson," and his most recent story "Nabokov's Inkblot," which was written for a dramatic adaptation performed in Zurich in 2013.
Mikhail Shishkin (b. 1961 in Moscow) is one of the most prominent names in contemporary Russian literature. A former interpreter for refugees in Switzerland, Shishkin divides his time between Moscow, Switzerland, and Germany.
About the Author
Mikhail Shishkin is one of the most acclaimed contemporary Russian literary figures, and is the only author to win all three major Russian literary prizes (including the Russian Booker Prize). The Guardian said of Shishkin's writing: "richly textured and innovative. . . arguably Russia's greatest living novelist." Born in Moscow 1961, Shishkin studied English and German at Moscow State Pedagogical Institute. After graduation he worked as a street sweeper, road worker, journalist, school teacher, and translator. He debuted as a writer in 1993, when his short story "Calligraphy Lesson" was published in Znamya magazine, which went on to win him the Debut Prize. Since 1995 he has lived in Switzerland. Shishkin's books have been translated into more than ten languages. His prose is universally praised for style, and his novels and stories deal with universal themes like death, resurrection, and love. Shishkin has been compared to numerous great writers, including Anton Chekhov, Vladimir Nabokov and James Joyce. Shishkin carries on the tradition of the greatest Russian writers, and admits to their influence in his work, "Bunin taught me not to compromise, and to go on believing in myself. Chekhov passed on his sense of humanity - that there can't be any wholly negative characters in your text. And from Tolstoy I learned not to be afraid of being naive." Marian Schwartz began her career in literary translation in 1978 with her translation of Landmarks, a 1909 collection of essays on the Russian intelligentsia written by some of Russia's most eminent philosophers of the day. In the three decades since then she has published over sixty volumes of fiction and nonfiction--biography, criticism, fine arts, and history. Schwartz studied Russian at Harvard University, Middlebury Russian School, and Leningrad State University and received a Master of Arts in Slavic Languages and Literatures from the University of Texas at Austin in 1975. Schwartz is perhaps best known for her prize-winning translations of works by Russian emigre writer Nina Berberova, including seven volumes of fiction (The Accompanist, The Tattered Cloak, Billancourt Tales, The Revolt, Cape of Storms, The Book of Happiness, and The Ladies from St. Petersburg) and one biography (Moura: The Dangerous Life of the Baroness Budberg, translated with Richard D. Sylvester). Schwartz's translation of Edvard Radzinsky's The Last Tsar: The Life and Death of Nicholas II was on the New York Times' bestseller list for sixteen weeks. Leo Shtutin is a final-year PhD student at Oxford, and a freelance translator with knowledge of several languages and experience of professional translating and interpreting, as well as work at the BBC. Mariya Bashkatova is a senior at Brown University studying Comparative Literature and Cognitive Neuroscience. At Brown, she writes for the school newspaper and is involved in the Aldus Journal of Translation. Mariya is an avid reader and enjoys translating Russian and French literature. Sylvia Maizell studied Russian Literature at the University of Chicago, in Moscow and in Saint Petersburg, and has taught Russian. For the past decade she has worked as a translator from Russian, including stories by Mikhail Shishkin, Vladimir Makanin, Andrei Gelasimov, Ludmila Petrushevskaya, and Dina Rubina. Her translations have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Best European Fiction 2011, Moscow Noir, Russian Love Stories (Middlebury Studies), Metamorphoses, Partisan Review, and Dance Chronicle: Studies in Dance and Related Arts.