Odessa Stories

Odessa Stories

4.06 (1,144 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Translated by 

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"It is impossible to look at the world the same way after reading Babel" FT

Odessa was a uniquely Jewish city, and the stories of Isaac Babel - a Jewish man, writing in Russian, born in Odessa - uncover its tough underbelly. Gangsters, prostitutes, beggars, smugglers: no one escapes the pungent, sinewy force of Babel's pen.

From the tales of the magnetic cruelty of Benya Krik - infamous mob boss, and one of the great anti-heroes of Russian literature - to the devastating semi-autobiographical account of a young Jewish boy caught up in a pogrom, this collection of stories is considered one of the great masterpieces of twentieth-century Russian literature.

Translated with precision and sensitivity by Boris Dralyuk, whose rendering of the rich Odessan argot is pitch-perfect, Odessa Stories is the first ever stand-alone collection of all the stories Babel set in the city - and includes tales from the original collection as well as later ones.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 120 x 165 x 17.78mm | 181.44g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 178227166X
  • 9781782271666
  • 119,453

Review quote

One of those "where have you been all my life?" books -- Nick Lezard Guardian This wonderful collection is a companion volume to Red Cavalry (2014). Babel is required reading -- Eileen Battersby Irish Times Books of the Year 2016 His is still an original, sparky voice sounding out of the great Russian literary pantheon RTE Arena Sparkling, wily and loose-tongued... Babel's dialogue calls for a daring translator... Boris Dralyuk delivers brilliantly TLS Electric, heroically wrought prose John Updike Lively and entertaining, wonderfully written and gives a captivating yet poignant glimpse of a lost world. Plus it's a beautifully produced Pushkin edition - so what more could you want? Kaggy's Bookish Ramblings (blog) Praise for Red Cavalry: 'Unforgettable stories, lyrical and earthy' - Eileen Battersby, Irish Times Books of the Year; 'Compact, irreverent, enigmatic, savage and tender... one of the enduring jewels of 20th-century Russian literature' - Financial Times; 'Vertiginous shifts in register... stylistic precision... Red Cavalry dazzles' - TLS; 'Think of M*A*S*H transported to the so-called Russian empire of 100 years ago... brilliant' - RTE; 'Boris Dralyuk brings to vivid life Babel's wry, unflinching account of his time as a correspondent in the Red Army during Russia's civil war' - Catherine Taylor, PEN Atlas; 'One of the great stylistic accomplishments of the 20th century... simply the best translation available' Wall Street Journal Fine writing East West Review [Isaac Babel's stories] opened a door in my mind, and behind that door I found the room where I wanted to spend the rest of my life Paul Auster I like the first-person narrator of Isaac Babel's classic story about class, "In the Basement," who, at the end of the story, completely humiliated, tries to drown himself in a rain barrel, but is saved by his grandfather, who tells him: "Grandson, I go now to take castor oil, so I'll have something to lay on your grave." A really upbeat family story George Saunders in the New York Times The salty speech of the city's inhabitants is wonderfully rendered in a new translation by Boris Dralyuk, who preserves the characters' Yiddishisms ("He doesn't talk much, but when he talks, you want he should keep talking") and imbues the dialogue with hard-boiled language reminiscent of Dashiell Hammett ("Buzz off, coppers... or we'll flatten you"). Although Babel mostly lets characters speak for themselves, the narrators' descriptions can be as luxurious as the stolen jewels given to Benya's sister on her wedding night, or as surprising as a slap in the face. "A sunset boiled in the sky," Babel writes, "a sunset as viscous as jam"; elsewhere, wine "smelt of sunshine and bedbugs" Vice
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About Isaac Babel

Isaac Babel was a short-story writer, playwright, literary translator and journalist. He joined the Red Army as a correspondent during the Russian civil war. The first major Russian-Jewish writer to write in Russian, he was hugely popular during his lifetime. He was murdered in Stalin's purges in 1940, at the age of 45.
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Rating details

1,144 ratings
4.06 out of 5 stars
5 41% (469)
4 34% (386)
3 18% (203)
2 6% (67)
1 2% (19)
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