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Asar Eppel


paper ISBN 9785717200394
ebook ISBN 9785717201292
192 pages

Translated by Joanne Turnbull

Sample writing Red Caviar Sandwiches

Also published in German by Suhrkamp, in Italian by Einaudi, in French by Gallimard.

The Grassy Street chronicles ordinary life in a typical Soviet suburb in the 1940s. Unsavory staff by any standard, but fascinating for the picture Eppel paints — with his remarkable tenderness, humor and even ebullience.

Eppel is a past master of the subtle detail and the bon mot. His minute descriptions of everyday life make you either burst out laughing or dissolve in tears.

"Asar Eppel introduces us to the largely unknown world of Ostankino, transformed after the Revolution from an elegant country spot into a dustheap of people of all nationalities with a touch of Jewish blood. ...It is not just talent but also love. His stories are modern classics, some of them comparable to the best of Chekhov. " —
Andrei SERGEEV, winner of the 1996 Russian Booker Prize

"How is it possible that the work of this brilliant, cultivated writer with his noble sense of humor and eternal Jewish anguish, with his all-embracing compassion for people combined with his merciless insight into their true nature, was unknown? In my opinion, Asar Eppel is the best Russian writer today." — Ludmila PETRUSHEVSKAYA

"In the erotic encounter of a couple in a vile barracks ("Red Caviar Sandwiches"), it is not so much the sordid environment that one retains, despite an obliging description, as the meeting, ultimately `without shame, or outside shame, celebrating with muffled sobs our triumph over the foul surround' — this is the genius and the miracle of Asar Eppel: to impose life in the midst of social disaster and one's own ruin." — La Quinzaine Literaire

"Unpublished throughout the Soviet regime, Eppel is now internationally recognized as a major player on today's literary stage and this novel is a superb example of his work. Chronicling ordinary life in a typical Soviet suburb in the 1940s, the novel paints a vivid picture of human survival in a bleak world. As the narrative delivers glimpses of human life in bite-size chunks, Eppel's extraordinary compassion and humor is revealed, combined with his Jewish sense of history and merciless insight into people's true natures. The vivaciousness and beauty of this novel are as fresh as it is haunting, and the publisher is commended for bringing such writing to the English-speaking world. Highly recommended." — THE GOOD BOOK GUIDE

"Asar Eppel's Grassy Street set in a Moscow suburb may take place during the 1940s, but it could easily be happening in contemporary Russia, or the Russia of the 19th century. ...Eppel's work reaches for Chekhovian pathos. The mention of Stalin, the war and the party may be few and prosaic, but telling details about Soviet existence do appear... Eppel implies much about a police state without ever giving himself away. Unsentimental but humane, his spare realism penetrates daily life in a way the socialist variety never could." — THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

"It is rare that a radically new voice is heard in literature — a style, a turn of phrase, a point of view that inserts itself into the reader's brain, changing him and his world, subtly perhaps but irrevocably. Asar Eppel is such a writer, and his Grassy Street is a revelation." —
The Moscow Times

Born in 1935 in Moscow, Eppel graduated from the Institute of Civil Engineering, majoring in Architecture. Unpublished in Soviet times due to his unorthodox views of Russian life he made his living as a literary translator, mainly from the Polish. His translations of Bruno Schultz and Wislava Simborska won him the Polish Medal 'For the Service to Polish Culture'. He also has to his credit translations of poetry such as Petrarch, Boccaccio, Scottish and Irish ballads, Bertolt Brecht, Kipling, and 18th century American poets.
He is vice-president of the Literary Translators' Guild and winner of the Foreign Literature magazine's literary award.
Eppel wrote the libretto and the lyrics for the musical based on Isaak Babel's Odessa Stories, produced by 20 theatres in Russia, and also by the Philadelphia Walnut Street Theatre under the title How It Was Done in Odessa. His books include The Grassy Street, The Mushroom of My Life, and a number of stories published in the leading Russian journals.