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Childhood

Zip & Other Stories

ISBN 5-7172-0037-4
224 pages, illustrated

The child is father to the man

Sample writing: Sufar Gareev The Holidays

"To some extent the book is an attempt to come to grips with the chaos of the present through an examination of the formative past... CHILDHOOD is in most ways a rare treat and is a worthy addition to the Glas series." — The Moscow Times

In this collection, centred on the theme of childhood we offer:

two early stories by Andrei Bitov which reflect the growing awareness in children of life's mystery and beauty; a story by Andrei Platonov, bearing the stamp of his inimitable style, more fully developed in The Foundation Pit; Ludmilla Ulitskaya's perspicacious story of the complex relationship between twin sisters; an impressionistic story by Zufar Gareev about the torments of adolescence; Leonid Latynin's epic, set in pre-Christian Russia and giving us a glimpse of the dawn of Russian civilisation; Alan Cherchesov's account of an unusually bright Chechen boy living alone in a highland village in the Caucasus; a story by Anatoly Pristavkin about childhood in the special orphanages for children of "enemies of the people"; and the Booker winners Andrei Sergeev and Sergei Gandlevsky, also devoted to the theme of childhood.

See also Andrei Platonov's stories; Ludmila Ulitskaya's novel Sonechka; Zufar Gareev's stories in Glas 1, 4, 7; Leonid Latynin's novel The Face-maker and the Muse; and Andrei Sergeev's novel Stamp Album.


Zufar Gareyev, born in 1955, grew up in Bashkiria and worked as a labourer in a variety of jobs before moving to Moscow to study at the Literature Institute.
He is notable for his linguistic virtuosity - especially his use of slang, neologisms, and linguistic corruptions — and his understanding of the fantastic, grotesque, double-think world that Soviet communism created (especially as viewed, in its twilight days, from the vantage point of the underdog or outsider — the cleaners, stokers, night watchmen, dropouts, tramps). His prose displays an extraordinary dynamism and presents, in a cartoon-like effect, snatched scenes and conversations, banal and fantastic, run through in a kind of hilarious fast-forward.
His short novels include: The Park, Alexander Petrovich's Allergy, When Other Birds Call, Facsimile Summer, The Holidays, Stereoscopic Slaves, Mulltiprose. In Germany he was published by Reclam, his English translations appeared in Glas.

"Stylistically ebullient, burlesque works that mix the real and fantastic, the lofty and grotesque to present a comic-horrific portrait of Russian life." — Sally Laird in Voices of Russian Literature

"Gareev's is a strange prose and strange drama — an intricate tangle of sophisticated language and feeling, romanticism and crude realism. With all the outward signs of modernism this is realism verging on naturalism that is drawn from our crazy, purposeless, upside-down life." — Evgeny Popov in Zolotoi Vek

"In Gareev's stories, life goes on regardless of logic — it is not so much actions and events but the mystery of life that is important, a deep-going other-worldly mystery, sucking people in as a whirlpool. Gareev's characters are irresistibly drawn by some sort of void that compels them to do seemingly meaningless things. What a mysterious void this is that conditions their vision and their way of life, making them see the invisible and experience strange love that cannot be consummated in this life." — Druzhba Narodov

Anatoly Pristavkin is one of the more outstanding realist writers of the generation known as "the men of the 1960s". Currently he heads the Presidential Committee on Clemency as well as writing his autobiographical fiction mainly set in an orphanage where the writer grew up himself. His best known novel A Golden Cloud There Rested has been translated into many languages. Pristavkin is the winner of the prestigious Pushkin Prize of the Toepfer Foundation.
Kukushkin Kids or the Cuckoos is an autobiographical novel is set in the war years in a special orphanage for children of "enemies of the people" with its appalling atmosphere of administrative neglect and callousness. The children learn that their names are not their real names, but given to them to conceal their true identity. They try to find out about their parents and finally stage an uprising that is cruelly suppressed by a special police force, shooting some of the children as criminals. Despite this tragic setting the novel is not at all gloomy. Sergei Kukushkin and his clan of "Cuckoos" are lively, bright and resourceful in the face of extreme adversity.

Andrei Bitov, born in 1937 in Leningrad, is recognized in Russia as one of the most important writers of his generation. His work is marked with subtle psychological insights and profound philosophical thoughts. He has established himself in the 1960s as a writer to whom conventional labels do not apply and his writing continues to remain outside any formal grouping. Much of Bitov's writing is excessively intellectual and deliberately mystifying. He is more literary than most other writers of his generation who tend to be more social.
His hero is usually given to self-doubt and even occasional self-loathing. He is often lonely and tormented over a search for his true identity. Although Bitov's stories are not strictly autobiographical his hero is usually a person who resembles the author himself. He is puzzled by the shifting dividing line between good and evil, real and unreal, which leads him to constant soul-searching. His writing invites a variety of interpretations.
Winner of many literary prizes, including the Pushkin and the State Prizes, Bitov has been widely published around the world in Russian and in translation. Most of his works are available in English from Harvill Press in the UK and from Farrar, Straus & Giroux in the US. His best known novels are: Pushkin House and A Captive of the Caucasus.
In this issue of Glas we offer the first English translations of two of his early stories.

Sergei Gandlevsky (born 1952), a graduate of the Philology dept of Moscow University. In 1996 he won two major prizes: the Little Booker Prize for his autobiographical novel, Opening the Skull, and the Anti-Booker prize for his poetry. Gandlevsky has several collections of poetry to his credit and numerous publications in the leading literary journals and anthologies, both at home and abroad.
Opening the Scull, which is Gandlevsky's debut in prose, is a deeply personal and poetical reminiscence of the 1960s and 70s, a period the writer wanted to preserve for posterity. Gandlevsky was then part of literary underground circles where his poems were avidly read in samizdat. Gandlevsky brilliantly describes the anguish of the hero who suddenly has to face the reality of dying from a brain tumour. His friends of those dissident years, now well-known writers and artists, are featured under their real names.