On Saturday, November 4, RTÉ Radio 1’s The Book Show, presented by Sinead Gleeson, broadcast a stellar episode on the Russian Revolution, which featured some readings from 1917 and my Babel translations, as well as from Teffi’s Subtly Worded. It was especially thrilling to hear one of my favorite American authors, George Saunders, discuss Babel’s influence on his work. The other guests were Maria Alyokhina of Pussy Riot, comedian and writer Viv Groskop, and Maria Stillmark of Trinity College Dublin.
Yesterday I gave a talk and taught a class at Binghamton University on the 1917 anthology, exactly one hundred years to the day (November 7, according to the Gregorian calendar) after the Bolshevik takeover. Many thanks to Sidney Dement for the invitation and for all the kindness he showed me during my stay! It was a bittersweet experience — probably the last of my 1917-related events.
While at Binghamton, I received an exceedingly generous review of the book from Max Cairnduff, who runs the indispensable literary blog Pechorin’s Journal. A comradely salute, Max!
I should also note that a major work by one of the authors I included in 1917, David Bergelson, has just been translated from Yiddish into English. Judgment (1926-29) is a gripping expressionistic novel set in a shtetl on the Ukrainian-Polish border during the Russian Civil War; Harriet Murav and Sasha Senderovich’s rendition is very effective indeed. I was asked to review it for In geveb, a terrific journal of Yiddish studies, by its equally terrific Editor-in-Chief, Madeleine Cohen.
And, of course, general interest in Russian literature won’t wane after the anniversary year closes. Some Russian names are here to stay. Case in point: this week’s TLS carries my longish piece on Joseph Brodsky and Vladimir Nabokov.