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[Read Ebook] ⚟ Tales of Odessa ⚟ The Odessa Tales Russian is a collection of short stories by Isaac Babel, situated in Odessa in the last days of the Russian Empire and the Russian Revolution Published individually in magazines throughoutandand collected into a book in , they deal primarily with a group of Jewish thugs that live in the Moldavanka, a ghetto of Odessa Russian literature has deservedly a reputation for being utterly depressing and heavy which is why it s always a delight to find comic writers like Teffi and Isaac Babel The humor in these authors stories and feuilletons is caustic and sharply observed, but still makes me smile and chuckle This week I read Isaac Babel s classic collection, Odessa Stories translated by Boris Dralyuk , about Jewish life in Odessa in the early twentieth century The collection is night and day from his collec Russian literature has deservedly a reputation for being utterly depressing and heavy which is why it s always a delight to find comic writers like Teffi and Isaac Babel The humor in these authors stories and feuilletons is caustic and sharply observed, but still makes me smile and chuckle This week I read Isaac Babel s classic collection, Odessa Stories translated by Boris Dralyuk , about Jewish life in Odessa in the early twentieth century The collection is night and day from his collection Red Cavalry, as one might expect, but it shares similar themes of violence and chaos without being as gutting as Red Cavalry Odessa Stories is packed with gangsters, tsarist and communist officials, pigeons, and a lot of slapstick Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review consideration. Thus, began my life, full of thought and merriment With Odessa Stories , Isaac Babel took me to the legendary city of Odessa, the mythical So excited to be starting this book Isaac Babel was one of the few great prose writers to come out of the Russian Revolution for most, the events just happened too fast, and the pressure on prose too great politically, socially but Babel had a wealth to share, and these stories of the rough, gangsterish world of Odessa, and his anti hero, jewish gangster kingpin Benya Krik, made his name So excited to read this new translation by Boris Dralyuk, a resident of Los Angeles but a native of So excited to be starting this book Isaac Babel was one of the few great prose writers to come out of the Russian Revolution for most, the events just happened too fast, and the pressure on prose too great politically, socially but Babel had a wealth to share, and these stories of the rough, gangsterish world of Odessa, and his anti hero, jewish gangster kingpin Benya Krik, made his name So excited to read this new translation by Boris Dralyuk, a resident of Los Angeles but a native of Odessa For Dralyuk, the essence of these beloved stories, about the has always resided in the language, the particular Odessa patois, a Yiddish flavored, tough guy argot which embodies the temperament and flavor of that melting pot city where Jews and Greeks, Turks and Syrians and Russians, East and West, crime and commerce, came together in a vital, sometimes violent encounter Anybody who likes tough guys, wise guys from Malamud to Scorsese to Damon Runyon, will love these Babel tales Slated for publication on Nov 15 YAY, the Guardian agrees ARC review Pushkin Press 2016 edition, translated by Boris Dralyuk 3.5 Many of these stories are like overhearing gossip in a pub or caf in a town you don t know there s an intimacy to them, people and their personalities aren t explained as such, they simply are as they are Characters are introduced in a way, but very much like the oral tradition, as if, in a way, they are already familiar even though you, personally, happen to be hearing of them for the first time And the tone is recogni ARC review Pushkin Press 2016 edition, translated by Boris Dralyuk 3.5 Many of these stories are like overhearing gossip in a pub or caf in a town you don t know there s an intimacy to them, people and their personalities aren t explained as such, they simply are as they are Characters are introduced in a way, but very much like the oral tradition, as if, in a way, they are already familiar even though you, personally, happen to be hearing of them for the first time And the tone is recognisably that of East European Jewish stories of the early twentieth century, like Sholem Aleichem or another Isaac, Bashevis Singer Aside from the bustling, occasionally comic but fairly often tragic humanity for this is the time of the Russian Revolution and its suppressions , there are interspersed some stunning descriptions of scenery if the ostensibly autobiographical story is true in which the fourteen year old scribbler is told he needs to observe and understand nature , he evidently took the advice to heart Similarly, Babel s observation in one of the essay fragments near the end, that the Golden Age Russian writers didn t give enthusiastic and passionate descriptions of the sun suggests, when read after the short stories, that he from the warm south of the country endeavoured to write his own instead.One of my enduring obsessions when reading any foreign fiction is sense of place, and I must admit I d have liked a littlehere,about the surroundings and the culture I found myself filling in gaps with other things I d read, but I don t really know that much about Odessa itself, and have heardabout shtetl culture In Aleichem I found a deep sense of a culture and environment now lost which he didn t realise at time of writing would be annihilated this collection wasabout individuals and family members, in part 2, and earlier about gangsters, who are pretty similar in their behaviour the world over, it seems Perhaps because Babel largely wrote and published under the Soviet regime, his portrayals areambivalent than Aleichem s A famous old gangster meets his demise at the hands of the Cheka but how much better was life really when the likes of him ruled the neighbourhood And not so many today would be sad that a mohel who insisted on sucking blood with his mouth was prohibited from practising by the Russian authorities The revolution may have been an oppressive machine, but life was far from idyllic before, and some of the most haunting stories are those about pogroms During one, an angry working class Russian says, We don t need no freedom just so the Yids get free trade This apparent angry willingness to decrease civil liberties as a corollary of decreasing trade opportunities for a despised, perceived better off group sounds too familiar again nowadays Whilst there is no shortage of strong characters in the Odessa Stories, there maybe isn t such a lot of comedy and sense of joy in life whether it was before or after the revolution, repression maybe just embarrassment follows soon enough, perhaps most notably in The Story of my Dovecote , which encompasses the greatest emotional range of all the pieces in this collection a title which it s impossible to see in the same way after reading the story andcomically In the Basement touching on the personally familiar sense of not having realised when younger that oneself and one s own family areinteresting than many of us think.Babel or his narrators repeat many times the stereotype of Jewish men as puny but brainy still alive and well nowadays in the idea of Jewish action movie heroes as essentially comic, e.g The Hebrew Hammer and that other one I can t remember and can t find online as I m writing this really quickly or the review I read somewhere on GR a few years ago in which a reader was surprised and pleased to discover a book on Jewish gangsters in the US This emphasis of Babel s own gives a contrast all the greater to the stories of gangsters and the roughneck Odessa draymen who were their forefathers Boris Dralyuk, of Odessan descent himself by the sounds of it, explains some of his translation choices in the introduction I wasn t sure about all of them cited I do like an original metaphor preserved wherever possible, but it all reads reasonably enough I have tentative reservations about the sequence of stories in this volume I d have liked to see how it flowed with the family stories first, but themselves in a different order, and the gangsters as part two But, whilst I ve not read Babel before, I get the impression this provides a good short introduction to his stories for those who may not want to plunge into a collected edition first time Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher, Pushkin Press, for this free advance review copy.