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Translator
Marian Schwartz is a prize-winning translator of Russian literature. She is the principal translator of the works of Nina Berberova and translated The Last Tsar, by Edvard Radzinsky, as well as classics by Mikhail Bulgakov, Ivan Goncharov, Yuri Olesha, and Mikhail Lermontov. She is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts translation fellowships and is a past president of the American Literary Translators Association.
Translator
Sabrina Jaszi studies and translates Russian and Central Asian literature from her home base of Oakland, California. Her translations and writings on translation have been published in Subtropics, the Paris Review DailyCatapult, and Sink. Her most recent translation, "Victory" by Reed Grachev, appears in The Offing.
Olga Slavnikova was born in 1957 in Sverdlovsk (now Ekaterinburg). She is the author of several award-winning novels, including 2017, which won the 2006 Russian Booker prize and was translated into English by Marian Schwartz (2010), and Long Jump, which won the 2018 Yasnaya Polyana Award.
Leonid Yuzefovich, a historian and writer, was born in Moscow in 1947 and spent his childhood and adolescence in the Urals. After graduating from university in Perm, he served as an officer in the Soviet Army in the Trans-Baikal region from 1970 to 1972 and for many years taught history in high school and college. He began writing as a young man but did not become well known until 2001, after the publication of his detective novel trilogy about a real-life nineteenth-century police inspector, Ivan Putilin, which has been filmed several times and been translated into various languages. Yuzefovich was awarded the Big Book Prize for his novel Cranes and Pygmies in 2009, and has been shortlisted twice for the Russian Booker Prize.
April 11, 2019 | 7:30pm

Translating Contemporary Russian Literature: Marian Schwartz on Olga Slavnikova and Leonid Yuzefovich

Green Apple Books on the Park | 1231 9th Avenue | San Francisco, CA

Marian Schwartz joins Sabrina Jaszi to talk about translating contemporary Russian literature and her latest translations of Leonid Yuzefovich’s Horsemen of the Sands and Olga Slavnikova’s The Man Who Couldn’t Die.

Horsemen of the Sands (Archipelago Books) contains two novellas by Leonid Yuzefovich: The Storm, which takes place in a Soviet elementary school, and Horsemen of the Sands, a mystical tale about the real-life warlord R.F. Ungern-Shternberg, who fought both the Chinese and the Bolsheviks for control of Mongolia during the Russian Civil War, which lasted six years after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution.

In The Storm, a bombastic teacher lectures his young students on traffic accidents and family separation, unwittingly stirring an emotional crisis. A lost wallet, an office fling, an upset stomach—the minutiae of life unveil the private tragedies at the heart of a school community.

Horsemen of the Sands takes place a world away. An old herdsman entrances a young tank commander with the legend of Baron Ungern, the real-life White Russian officer who conquered Mongolia. A foggy epic unfolds, a tale of faith and revenge centering on a mysterious amulet, said to make the wearer invincible. From the dim of the classroom to the vast Mongolian steppe, Leonid Yuzefovich’s masterful novellas The Storm and Horsemen of the Sands drill straight to the core of human emotion. These Russian parables illuminate the fears, passions, and ambitions beneath the grandest acts and the tiniest gestures.

Olga Slavnikova’s The Man Who Couldn’t Die (Columbia University Press) tells the story of how two women try to prolong a life—and the means and meaning of their own lives—by creating a world that doesn’t change, a Soviet Union that never crumbled.In the chaos of early-1990s Russia, the wife and stepdaughter of a paralyzed veteran conceal the Soviet Union’s collapse from him in order to keep him—and his pension—alive until it turns out the tough old man has other plans.

After her stepfather’s stroke, Marina hangs Brezhnev’s portrait on the wall, edits the Pravda articles read to him, and uses her media connections to cobble together entire newscasts of events that never happened. Meanwhile, her mother, Nina Alexandrovna, can barely navigate the bewildering new world outside, especially in comparison to the blunt reality of her uncommunicative husband. As Marina is caught up in a local election campaign that gets out of hand, Nina discovers that her husband is conspiring as well—to kill himself and put an end to the charade. Masterfully translated by Marian Schwartz, The Man Who Couldn’t Die is a darkly playful vision of the lost Soviet past and the madness of the post-Soviet world that uses Russia’s modern history as a backdrop for an inquiry into larger metaphysical questions.

Contact:
Leslie-Ann Woofter
415.512.8812
Translator
Marian Schwartz is a prize-winning translator of Russian literature. She is the principal translator of the works of Nina Berberova and translated The Last Tsar, by Edvard Radzinsky, as well as classics by Mikhail Bulgakov, Ivan Goncharov, Yuri Olesha, and Mikhail Lermontov. She is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts translation fellowships and is a past president of the American Literary Translators Association.
Translator
Sabrina Jaszi studies and translates Russian and Central Asian literature from her home base of Oakland, California. Her translations and writings on translation have been published in Subtropics, the Paris Review DailyCatapult, and Sink. Her most recent translation, "Victory" by Reed Grachev, appears in The Offing.
Olga Slavnikova was born in 1957 in Sverdlovsk (now Ekaterinburg). She is the author of several award-winning novels, including 2017, which won the 2006 Russian Booker prize and was translated into English by Marian Schwartz (2010), and Long Jump, which won the 2018 Yasnaya Polyana Award.
Leonid Yuzefovich, a historian and writer, was born in Moscow in 1947 and spent his childhood and adolescence in the Urals. After graduating from university in Perm, he served as an officer in the Soviet Army in the Trans-Baikal region from 1970 to 1972 and for many years taught history in high school and college. He began writing as a young man but did not become well known until 2001, after the publication of his detective novel trilogy about a real-life nineteenth-century police inspector, Ivan Putilin, which has been filmed several times and been translated into various languages. Yuzefovich was awarded the Big Book Prize for his novel Cranes and Pygmies in 2009, and has been shortlisted twice for the Russian Booker Prize.