The Light and the Dark

The Light and the Dark

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781623658779
Publisher: Quercus
Publication date: 01/06/2015
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 777,337
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

AUTHOR Mikhail Shishkin was born in Moscow in 1961. Today, he is one of the most acclaimed Russian writers and the only author to have won all three major Russian literary prizes. Shishkin shares his time between Moscow, Berlin, and Switzerland.

TRANSLATOR
Andrew Bromfield has translated into English many notable Russian authors, including Boris Akunin, Leo Tolstoy, Mikhail Bulgakov, and many more. He is a founding editor of Glas, a Russian literary journal.

Read an Excerpt

Probably, in order to become real, you have to exist, not in your own awareness, which is so uncertain and subject to the influence of sleep, for instance, when even you don’t know if you’re alive or not, but in the awareness of another person. And not just any person, but one for whom it is important to know that you exist. You know that I exist. And here, where everything is topsyturvy, that makes me real.

When I was still a child I avoided death by a miracle—I got up at night to go to the toilet and the book shelves collapsed onto the bed.

But I only started thinking seriously about my own death for the first time at school in a zoology lesson. We had an old teacher, an invalid, and he warned us to put a tablet from his pocket in his mouth if he ever fell unconscious. We put the tablet in, but it didn’t help.

He always used to wipe his glasses with his tie.

At first he taught us botany and I took such a liking to him that I was always collecting herbariums, but later I decided to become an ornithologist, like him.

It was very funny the way he used to lament the disappearance of various plants and birds.

He stands there at the blackboard and shouts at us, as if we’re to blame for something.

"Where’s the shady crocus? Where’s the weak sedge? Where’s the caldesia? And the summer snowflake? And Dubyansky’s cornflower? Well, say something, will you? And the birds? Where are the birds? Where’s Steller’s sea eagle? Where’s the bearded vulture-eagle? Where’s the glossy ibis? I’m asking you! And the crested ibis! And the marbled teal! And the shikra! Where’s the shikra?"

And when he asked this, he himself looked like some sort of bird with ruffled feathers. All the teachers had nicknames, and he was called Shikra.

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