Are you intimidated by the great (and by great, we mean looooooong) novels of Dostoevsky or Tolstoy, Ulitskaya and Tokarczuk? Novels over 500 pages may not be a crime to read, but they can, at times, feel like a punishment to finish. That’s why we're is introducing SHORT(ER) SLAVIC NOVELS, a book club dedicated to Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Belarusian, Czech, etc. novels under 300 pages. All titles will be read in English, so previous knowledge of Slavic languages is NOT required. (Uk)Rain(e) or shine, czech out our Downtown Brooklyn location every month for classic and contemporary Slavic fiction. За встречу!
This month we'll be reading The Funeral Party by Ludmila Ulitskaya.
August 1991. In a sweltering New York City apartment, a group of Russian émigrés gathers round the deathbed of an artist named Alik, a charismatic character beloved by them all, especially the women who take turns nursing him as he fades from this world. Their reminiscences of the dying man and of their lives in Russia are punctuated by debates and squabbles: Whom did Alik love most? Should he be baptized before he dies, as his alcoholic wife, Nina, desperately wishes, or be reconciled to the faith of his birth by a rabbi who happens to be on hand? And what will be the meaning for them of the Yeltsin putsch, which is happening across the world in their long-lost Moscow but also right before their eyes on CNN?
This marvelous group of individuals inhabits the first novel by Ludmila Ulitskaya to be published in English, a book that was shortlisted for the Russian Booker Prize and has been praised wherever translated editions have appeared. Simultaneously funny and sad, lyrical in its Russian sorrow and devastatingly keen in its observation of character, The Funeral Party introduces to our shores a wonderful writer who captures, wryly and tenderly, our complex thoughts and emotions confronting life and death, love and loss, homeland and exile.