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Unwitting Street (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

I'd love to hear these bizarre fables of personified thoughts, rogue clothings and fanciful drunk fantasies told in front of a roaring fire.  Each story both eery and cozy as a waiting room designed by Winsor McCay, full of jokes, mightedly tidily dressed up in funeral wear.  

— From Ian McCord


Eighteen strange, whimsical, and philosophical tales by the Russian master of the weird, all now in English for the very first time.

When Comrade Punt does not wake up one Moscow morning--he has died--his pants dash off to work without him. The ambitious pants soon have their own office and secretary. So begins the first of eighteen superb examples of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky's philosophical and phantasmagorical stories. Where the stories included in two earlier NYRB collections (Memories of the Future and Autobiography of a Corpse) are denser and darker, the creations in Unwitting Street are on the lighter side: an ancient goblet brimful of self-replenishing wine drives its owner into the drink; a hypnotist's attempt to turn a fly into an elephant backfires; a philosopher's free-floating thought struggles against being "enlettered" in type and entombed in a book; the soul of a politician turned chess master winds up in one of his pawns; an unsentimental parrot journeys from prewar Austria to Soviet Russia.

About the Author

Sigizmund Krzizhanovsky (1887-1950) studied law and classical philology at Kiev University. In his philosophical and satirical stories with fantastical plots, he ignored official injunctions to portray the new Soviet state in a positive light, and three separate efforts to print different collections were quashed by the censors, a fourth by World War II. Two of his short story collections, Autobiography of a Corpse and Memories of the Future, and his novels The Letter Killers Club and The Return of Munchhausen are also available as NYRB Classics.

Joanne Turnbull’s translations from Russian in collaboration with Nikolai Formozov include Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s The Letter Killers Club (winner of the AATSEEL Prize for Best Literary Translation into English) and Autobiography of a Corpse (winner of the PEN Translation Prize).

Praise For…

“These philosophical, melancholic, darkly funny tales merit a place beside those of Kafka, Borges, and Calvino.” —Kirkus, starred review

“This collection . . . mixes playful and morose tones in stories of the kooky and the condemned . . . clever and satirical in his descriptions, Krzhizhanovsky is at his best when finding levity in grave revelations.” —Publishers Weekly

“Krzhizhanovsky found his definitive English voice in the Moscow-based translator Joanne Turnbull. . . . Turnbull has co-created Krzhizhanovsky’s best phantasmagorical modernist fictions in paperbacks published by New York Review Books.” —Caryl Emerson
Product Details
ISBN: 9781681374888
ISBN-10: 1681374889
Publisher: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: August 18th, 2020
Pages: 192