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An unsuccessful writer and an inveterate alcoholic, Boris Alikhanov is running out of money and has recently divorced from his wife Tatyana, who intends to emigrate to the West with their daughter Masha. The prospect of a summer job as a tourist guide at the Pushkin Hills preserve offers him hope of bringing back some balance into his existence, but during his stay in the rural estate of Mikhaylovskoye, Alikhanov’s life continues to unravel.
Populated with unforgettable characters, such as Alikhanov’s fellow guides Mitrofanov and Pototsky and the KGB officer Belyaev, and presented here for the first time in the English language, Pushkin Hills is arguably Dovlatov’s most personal work and a poignant portrayal of the Russian attitude towards life and art.
A desperately hilarious, flippantly tragic gem. Read it – and weep. And laugh. But read it.
Dovlatov greeted his success in America with mixed feelings, fearing that in English he would never be appreciated for what he most valued – his language. This first translation, by his daughter Katherine, of a work he particularly cherished, is a powerful argument to the contrary. Its great merit is to recreate the varied speech patterns and colloquial mode of storytelling that Dovlatov worked so hard to render natural in Russian.
A black comedy of eyes-wide-open excess … and a fine rumination on being Russian, besides.
Amusing and richly disconcerting.
From the opening page of Pushkin Hills, Sergei Dovlatov’s witty observations and descriptive brilliance are a delight … Dovlatov’s writing deserves to be better known among foreigners. His daughter, Katherine, has helped that process by creating a wonderful translation of Zapovednik, the first ever in English.
Russia Beyond the Headlines
I loved Katherine Dovlatov's translation of Sergei Dovlatov's novel Pushkin Hills, one of the late Soviet émigré writer's most personal works. Katherine Dovlatov brings into English her father's gritty mix of elegy and wit.
Katherine Dovlatov's translation captures the wit and bittersweet irony of her father's Russian rural comedy.
Katherine Dovlatov’s translation feels almost transparent at times, as though the original Russian were visible through the text.
The New York Review of Books
One wishes that he’d lived longer, been published sooner, given us more.
The descent of the drunkard in Pushkin Hills, from qualified hope to utter despair, is arguably one of Dovlatov’s greatest contributions to Russian literature.
The New York Review of Books
Vodka-fuelled mishaps, grotesque comic cameos and – above all – quick-fire dialogue that swings and stings propel this furious twilight romp from the final days of Soviet power.
Born to an Armenian mother and a Jewish father, Sergei Dovlatov (1941–90) grew up in Leningrad. Because of his writings, which he could not publish in Russia, he was persecuted by the authorities, and ultimately forced into exile in the US, where he developed his talent as a comic writer. Since his death in 1990, Dovlatov has become one of the most popular and widely read authors in Russia.