“Justice in Quotes”

On July 12th and 13th, Odessa celebrated the 123rd birthday of its beloved myth-maker, Isaac Babel, with a bash that would have pleased the party-loving Kriks: a flashmob! My friend, the intrepid travel and food writer Caroline Eden, was on the scene and tweeted a photo of the festivities — as well as one of her mouthwatering, if “slippery,”  lunch. (Ah, the sprats of my childhood! “And suddenly the memory returns.”)

You can read about the event in the 9th issue of The Odessa Review. And I’m deeply grateful to the journal’s Chief Editor, Vladislav Davidzon, and its Senior Editor, Katya Michaels, for including my translation of what may have been Babel’s earliest Odessa story, “Justice in Quotes,” in the same issue. “Justice,” which is written in the voice of the scheming broker Tsudechkis, was published in an Odessa newspaper in August 1921 and never reprinted in Babel’s lifetime. (July 7 was also my birthday, and I couldn’t have asked for a better gift from my hometown.)

The Odessa Review has been a boon to Odessa — a vibrant, inventive, cosmopolitan publication in the city’s own image. May it prosper!

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