Tuesday, December 17 at 6:30 p.m.
2nd Floor on Clinton
67 Clinton Street*
Read Russia and
New York Review Books
“Krzhizhanovsky is one of the greatest Russian writers of the last century.”
– Robert Chandler, The Financial Times
The holidays are a magical time when it feels like anything is possible... and these newly translated tales from a playful Soviet master are sure to transport you through the cracks of everyday reality and into the extraordinary.
Join Read Russia for an intimate gathering on December 17 as we sip on inventive cocktails and celebrate the launch of Autobiography of a Corpse by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, the latest literary treat from New York Review Books. NYRB Classics editor Edwin Frank and book critic and translator Liesl Schillinger will be our guides through Krzhizhanovsky's fantastic and blackly comic philosophical fables, which have been compared to the works of Poe, Gogol and Beckett. Frozen under Soviet censorship for years, his work was published for the first time only in 1989.
Autobiography of a Corpse collects eleven mind-bending and spellbinding stories—the tale of a journalist who moves to Moscow to find himself engrossed in the identity of his room’s previous tenant; the fingers of a famous pianist depart the musician’s body and spend a night in the city alone; a man’s desire to bite his own elbow results in a circus act and some large philosophical ramifications—into a volume of Krzhizhanovsky’s most brilliant conceits. Translated by Joanne Turnbull, Autobiography of a Corpse joins The Letter Killers Club and Memories of the Future as the only works by Krzhizhanovsky translated into English, all published by NYRB Classics.
Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (1887-1950), the Ukrainian-born son of Polish emigrants, studied law and classical philology at Kiev University. After graduation and two summers spent exploring Europe, he was obliged to clerk for an attorney. A sinecure, the job allowed him to devote most of his time to literature and his own writing. In 1920, he began lecturing in Kiev on theater and music. The lectures continued in Moscow, where he moved in 1922, by then well known in literary circles. Lodged in a cell-like room on the Arbat, Krzhizhanovsky wrote steadily for close to two decades. His philosophical and phantasmagorical fictions ignored injunctions to portray the Soviet state in a positive light. Three separate efforts to print collections were quashed by the censors, a fourth by World War II. Not until 1989 could his work begin to be published. Like Poe, Krzhizhanovsky takes us to the edge of the abyss and forces us to look into it. “I am interested,” he said, “not in the arithmetic, but in the algebra.”
*Enter through Barramundi on the ground floor, go straight to the back and ring the doorbell on the left.