The Loss: A Novella and Two Short Stories

Overview


The novella and two short stories that make up this volume were written at three different periods in Makanin's life, yet they are united by their narrative and stylistic invention, their range of human emotion, and the profound humanity of their prose. Though banished and suppressed in the Brezhnev era, Makanin is now recognized as one of Russia's leading writers.

In his celebrated short story "The Prisoner of the Caucasus," two Russian soldiers take a Chechen prisoner during ...

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Overview


The novella and two short stories that make up this volume were written at three different periods in Makanin's life, yet they are united by their narrative and stylistic invention, their range of human emotion, and the profound humanity of their prose. Though banished and suppressed in the Brezhnev era, Makanin is now recognized as one of Russia's leading writers.

In his celebrated short story "The Prisoner of the Caucasus," two Russian soldiers take a Chechen prisoner during the war, and as events unfold, Makanin reveals the casual brutality of the war but also the secret truths of the character's lives. In the novella The Loss, Pekalov, a drunkard and dreamer obsessed with the idea of building a tunnel under the Ural River, disappears in a ditch while working and is made a saint by the people of his village. "Klyucharyov and Alimushkin" tells the story of what happens when one man becomes remarkably lucky while the other loses all his luck.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Makanin strives here for Tolstoyan artistic and philosophical heights--and not without some success." --Washington Post Book World

"Makanin plays on gain and loss in three registers in these stories, each in a distinctive voice and a universal language."--Review of Contemporary Literature

"A revelaing contribution to the literature of the former Eastern bloc."--New York Times Book Review

Anderson Tepper
The Loss, a novella and two short stories by Vladimir Makanin, is a revealing contribution to the literature of the former Eastern bloc. -- New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Best known in this country for the last story of this uneven collection, 'The Prisoner of the Caucasus' (which inspired a movie with a similar title), Makanin grapples with large philosophical themes about what composes a man's identity and how to live a worthwhile life. The title novella uses a popular legend of a man trying to dig a tunnel underneath the Ural River as the starting point for a deeper exploration into a man's past. In switching from the parable to a more personal narrative and then to philosophical musings, Makanin's technique, at least in translation, makes the narrative clumsy and the themes transparent. Told in an allegorical fashion, 'Klycharyov and Alimushkin' suffers from the same heavy-handedness as Makanin chronicles one man's good luck at the expense of another's misfortune. In contrast, the last story describes with spare elegance the relationship between a Russian soldier and a captive Chechen during the war. Here Makanin does most to show his inheritance from his great realist predecessors Lermontov and Tolstoy.
Library Journal
In addition to "The Loss" (1987), this volume includes the shorter "Klyucharyov and Alimushkin" and "The Prisoner from the Caucasus." Makanin, who was banished under Brezhnev, is not well known here, but in 1993 he became the first to win the Russian Booker Prize.
Kirkus Reviews
More fiction from the prizewinning Russian author of Escape Hatch and Baize-Colored Table with Decanter. The title novella, about its obsessive protagonist whose efforts to dig a tunnel beneath the Ural River earn him eventual canonization, wheezes with conventional and predictable ironies—as does 'Klycharov and Alimushkin,' a fable-like tale of its title characters' crisscrossing and conflicting destinies. Far better is 'The Prisoner from the Caucasus,' a spare and direct story (made into an acclaimed recent film) detailing the relationship between a Russian soldier and his Chechen captive. It's the least tricky and mannered, and most affecting example of Makanin's seemingly overpraised work to have reached English translation thus far.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810116405
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press
  • Publication date: 7/22/1998
  • Series: Writings from an Unbound Europe Series
  • Edition description: Translated
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 154
  • Product dimensions: 4.75 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Vladimir Semyonovich Makanin (Born March 1937 in Orsk, Soviet Union) is a Russian writer.

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments
Translator's Preface

The Loss
Klyucharyov and Alimushkin
The Prisoner from the Caucasus

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