Yesterday, the winners of this year’s PEN Literary Awards were announced, and among them is one of particular interest to this site: The PEN Translation Prize, which went to:
- Autobiography of a Corpse, by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, translated from the Russian by Joanne Turnbull and Nikolai Formozov
I wrestled with this collection eleven short stories for some months before finally posting my review, which you can read here. The struggle was worth it. Here’s my final paragraph:
It’s a tragedy that Krzhizhanovsky had to deal with the politics and censorship of Soviet Russia — that shouldn’t go unmentioned — but I don’t think the themes that pervade his work, closely linked to the forces he lived under and yet so universal, would have been explored in this way were it not for that system. Krzhizhanovsky would have been thinking of other things instead of digging deep into his soul — in the dark — to pull out these bizarre stories. Also, while frustrating at times, I’m glad these didn’t suffer under any editorial attempt to make them fit what I expected. The book is imperfect — and, in a way, because of that, it’s perfect. There is a great void (rendered beautifully in these works), and these are the broken echoes — could they be any other way? — of a man shouting.