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Nikolai Nikolaevich and Camouflage


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Introduction, by Susanne Fusso
Nikolai Nikolaevich

About the Author

Yuz Aleshkovsky was born in 1929 in Krasnoyarsk and grew up in Moscow. He served in the Soviet navy and was imprisoned from 1950 to 1953 for "violating discipline." He published children's books but became best known for his songs and novels circulated in samizdat before he emigrated to the United States in 1979. His works in English include The Hand (1989) and Kangaroo (1999).

Duffield White is professor emeritus of Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies at Wesleyan University. He is the translator of Tolstoi in the Sixties by Boris Eikhenbaum (1982).

Susanne Fusso is Marcus L. Taft Professor of Modern Languages and professor of Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies at Wesleyan University. She is the translator of Trepanation of the Skull by Sergey Gandlevsky (2014).


Joseph Brodsky once noted that Aleshkovsky had a Mozartian ear for the Russian language, and Nikolai Nikolaevich (1970), his first novel, as well as Camouflage (1978), his fourth - written the year before the author emigrated permanently to the US - are indeed virtuoso performances. . . . Staying faithful to Aleshkovsky's foul-mouthed muse, White's translation, edited by Fusso, mines the rich muck of anglophone cussing with evident glee, and the effect is delightful. -- Boris Dralyuk * Times Literary Supplement *
Rescued from the literary underground, these two historical novellas provide a coarse satirical insight into post-World War II Soviet dissatisfaction. Aleshkovsky emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1979 as an infamous writer of imaginative dissident fiction. . . . Through his two scurrilous antiheroes, Aleshkovsky laughs at Russian society from the gutters of the Soviet underworld. * Kirkus Reviews *
Forget old myths about censored, obedient Soviet citizens, and meet Aleshkovsky's wildly enterprising and emphatically free-thinking protagonists who don't hesitate to use colorful language to make a point about body politics, the scientific use of semen, and other absurdities of modern life. -- Yvonne Howell, University of Richmond
Completely irreverent - in the best possible way. Underneath the biting satire and the unrelenting hilarity, Yuz Aleshkovsky's rapid-fire prose reveals intricate insights into late Soviet politics, culture, science, and daily life. The deeply problematic narrators of both novellas will introduce you to a Soviet Union you hadn't suspected existed. -- Michael Gordin, Princeton University
Yuz Aleshkovsky is absolutely brilliant. These outstanding English translations of two of his early works offer readers a chance to encounter his idiosyncratic, occasionally profane, and thoroughly remarkable voice. -- Derek C. Maus, State University of New York at Potsdam
Thanks to the author's vision and the translator's talent, the text survives its emigration. * Los Angeles Review of Books *
They hold up reasonably well even long after the fall of the regime. * The Complete Review *
Thanks to White's remarkable translation, Aleshkovsky's Nikolai Nikolaevich and Camouflage may well become an inevitable part of the curriculum. * Slavic Review *

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