The Yellow Arrow

( 2 )

Overview

Set during the advent of perestroika, a surreal, satirical novella by a critically acclaimed young Russian writer traces the fate of the passengers on The Yellow Arrow, a long-distance Russian train headed for a ruined bridge, a train without an end or a beginning—and it makes no stops. Andrei, the mystic passenger, less and less lulled by the never-ending sound of the wheels, has begun to look for a way to get off. But life in the carriages goes on as always. This important ...

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Overview

Set during the advent of perestroika, a surreal, satirical novella by a critically acclaimed young Russian writer traces the fate of the passengers on The Yellow Arrow, a long-distance Russian train headed for a ruined bridge, a train without an end or a beginning—and it makes no stops. Andrei, the mystic passenger, less and less lulled by the never-ending sound of the wheels, has begun to look for a way to get off. But life in the carriages goes on as always. This important young Russian author's first American translation garnered rave reviews.
The main character, Andrei, is a passenger aboard the Yellow Arrow, who begins to despair over the trains ultimate destination and looks for a way out as the chapters count down. Indifferent to their fate, the other passengers carry on as usual — trading in nickel melted down fro the carriage doors, attending the Upper Bunk avant-garde theatre, and leafing through Pasternak’s Early Trains. Pelevin's art lies in the ease with which he shifts from precisely imagined science fiction to lyrical meditations on past and future. And, because he is a natural storyteller with a wonderfully absurd imagination. The Yellow Arrow is full of the ridiculous and the sublime. It is a reflective story, chilling and gripping.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a starred review PW wrote that this Russian novella "fuses pungent, visceral imagery reminiscent of Maxim Gorky with an absurdist comic outlook." (May)
Kirkus Reviews
An enigmatic novella, whose suggestive central image strikingly encapsulates the character of post-Soviet society and, more generally, the fate of man—from the prize-winning Russian author of Omon Ra (see above).

Protagonist Andrei is riding on a train called the Yellow Arrow, whose destination, he learns, is a ruined bridge. Passengers die, their funerals are held on board the train, and their bodies are thrown "out there" beyond the passing embankments. "World culture takes a long time to reach us," Andrei's fellow travellers complain, enduring their closeted state as best they can by practicing an indigenous "folk art" (the train does a thriving business in handpainted beer cans) and also the religion of "bedeism" (the belief that they're being pulled along by a "B.D. 3" locomotive). One thinks, inevitably, of a cramped and repressed population unable to break free of its imprisoning environment—but Pelevin's wry fable earns a convincingly wider resonance. Andrei guesses that the train may be named as it is because its lateral motion visually resembles the vertical descent of falling stars ("yellow arrows") in the foreordained transit from incandescence to extinction. He shares the common yearning to journey "out there" past his compartment's windows, while knowing he can do so only when his own portion of the train's journey is concluded. Imagine Hermann Hesse with a robust sense of humor, and you'll have an idea of the complex emotional texture Pelevin manages to create for his story's climactic moment—a climax that daringly evokes, and does not suffer from comparison with, Tolstoy's great short novel The Death of Ivan Ilyich.

A brilliant parable that treats a dauntingly abstract conception with vivid specificity and clear-eyed humanity.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811213554
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 4/28/1997
  • Series: New Directions Paperbook Ser.
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 100
  • Sales rank: 423,389
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Victor Pelevin is one of Russia’s most successful post-Soviet writers. He won the Russian Booker prize in 1993 Born on November 22, 1962 in Moscow, he attended the Moscow Institute of Power Engineering, and the Institute of Literature. He’s now been published throughout Europe. His books include A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia, Omon Ra, The Blue Lantern, The Yellow Arrow, and The Hall of the Singing Caryatids.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by the Author

Human Being
Of Being
The Avowal
'The Holy One...'
'I learned that her name was Proverb'
A Calvary Path
Candlemas
Angus Dei
Flickering Mind
On a Theme by Thomas Merton
Standoff
On the Mystery of the Incarnation
Variation on a Theme by Rilke
Psalm Fragments (Schnittke String Trio)
Suspended
The Tide
'In Whom We Live and Move and Have Our Being'
The Beginning of Wisdom
Altars
To Live in the Mercy of God
Primary Wonder
Poetics of Faith
St. Peter and the Angel
Caedmon
The Servant-Girl at Emmaus
Conversion of Brother Lawrence
Dom Helder Camara at the Nuclear Test Site
The Showings: Lady Julian of Norwich
Annunciation
On the Parables of the Mustard Seed
What the Figtree Said
A Heresy
Salvator Mundi: Via Crucis
On a Theme from Julian's Chapter XX
Ikon: The Harrowing of Hell
On Belief in the Physical Resurrection of Jesus
St. Thomas Didymus
Ascension
Notes

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2006

    A Great Arrow Stright to the Top

    This book works so well on any level. It is a book that can be applyed to any life in any culture. A GREAT book that will entertain you and have you thinking about life from a new, different, and exciting view point. A+.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2005

    serious entertainment !

    you will read this book again and again - it is purely entertaining on the surface and then you will see that this well has no bottom...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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