Centred on the theme of childhood this collection includes:
two early stories by Bitov about the growing awareness in children of life's mystery and beauty; Platonov's story bearing the stamp of his inimitable style; Ulitskaya's perspicacious story of the complex relationship between twin sisters; Anatoly Pristavkin about childhood in the special orphanages for children of "enemies of the people".
About the Author
Anatoly Pristavkin is one of the more outstanding realist writers of the generation known as "the men of the 1960s". Currently he heads the Presidential Committee on Clemency as well as writing his autobiographical fiction mainly set in an orphanage where the writer grew up himself. His best known novel A Golden Cloud There Rested has been translated into many languages. Pristavkin is the winner of the prestigious Pushkin Prize of the Toepfer Foundation.
Kukushkin Kids or the Cuckoos is an autobiographical novel is set in the war years in a special orphanage for children of "enemies of the people" with its appalling atmosphere of administrative neglect and callousness. The children learn that their names are not their real names, but given to them to conceal their true identity. They try to find out about their parents and finally stage an uprising that is cruelly suppressed by a special police force, shooting some of the children as criminals. Despite this tragic setting the novel is not at all gloomy. Sergei Kukushkin and his clan of "Cuckoos" are lively, bright and resourceful in the face of extreme adversity.
"Stylistically ebullient, burlesque works that mix the real and fantastic, the lofty and grotesque to present a comic-horrific portrait of Russian life." Sally Laird in Voices of Russian Literature
Andrei Bitov, born in 1937 in Leningrad, is recognized in Russia as one of the most important writers of his generation. His work is marked with subtle psychological insights and profound philosophical thoughts. He has established himself in the 1960s as a writer to whom conventional labels do not apply and his writing continues to remain outside any formal grouping. Much of Bitov's writing is excessively intellectual and deliberately mystifying. He is more literary than most other writers of his generation who tend to be more social.
His hero is usually given to self-doubt and even occasional self-loathing. He is often lonely and tormented over a search for his true identity. Although Bitov's stories are not strictly autobiographical his hero is usually a person who resembles the author himself. He is puzzled by the shifting dividing line between good and evil, real and unreal, which leads him to constant soul-searching. His writing invites a variety of interpretations.
Winner of many literary prizes, including the Pushkin and the State Prizes, Bitov has been widely published around the world in Russian and in translation. Most of his works are available in English from Harvill Press in the UK and from Farrar, Straus & Giroux in the US. His best known novels are: Pushkin House and A Captive of the Caucasus.