Memories – From Moscow to the Black Sea
Teffi, Robert Chandler, Anne Marie Jackson, Irina Steinberg
BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week
‘Wonderfully idiosyncratic, coolly heartfelt and memorable’ William Boyd
‘I never imagined such a memoir could be possible… enthralling’ Antony Beevor
‘A vividly idiosyncratic personal account of the disintegration of Tsarist Russia after the Revolution, as alive to the farcical and the ridiculous as it is to the tragic; a bit like what Chekhov might have written if he had lived to experience it’ Michael Frayn
The writer and satirist Teffi was a literary sensation in Russia until war and revolution forced her to leave her country for ever. Memories is her blackly funny and heartbreaking account of her final, frantic journey into exile across Russia-travelling by cart, freight train and rickety steamer-and the ‘ordinary and unheroic’ people she encounters. From refugees setting up camp on a dockside to a singer desperately buying a few ‘last scraps’ of fabric to make a dress, all are caught up in the whirlwind; all are immortalized by Teffi’s penetrating gaze.
Fusing exuberant wit and bitter horror, this is an extraordinary portrayal of what it means to say goodbye, with haunting relevance in today’s new age of diaspora. Published in English for the first time, it confirms the rediscovery of Teffi as one of the most humane, perceptive observers of her time, and an essential writer for ours.
Wonderfully idiosyncratic, coolly heartfelt and memorable -- William Boyd Sunday Times Light, witty and elegiac all at once - I found it captivating -- John Gray Observer, Books of the Year 2016 Darkly funny... she did write in this very charming, humorous and light way that allowed her to slip in these little satirical points in a way that was acceptable BBC Radio 4 Open Book Memories might have been relentlessly bleak if it were not for its humour and Teffi's indestructible positivity... Teffi's world becomes somewhere we do not want to leave Guardian Highly readable... she is not afraid to look into the depths of what human beings can do to one another and what happens when civilisation breaks down Financial Times [A] remarkable memoir... perhaps this is the essence of Teffi, the quality that makes her writing both potent and endearing: she pitches it -- Erica Wagner New Statesman Pushkin Press deserves our thanks for bringing Teffi to a much wider audience Spectator Pushkin Press should be applauded for publishing her astonishingly vivid memoir Country Life An astonishing work that... deserves to be turned into a film. It is both a thriller and an unforgettably personal account of one of the worst periods in Russhian history... modern Ukraine could do with some reporters as wise and humane as Teffi Literary Review [Teffi's work is] amazingly modern, as easy to devour as, well, a box of chocolates -- Rachel Cooke Observer She always finds the funny but never loses sight of the sadness in the madness. Awesome Big Issue Teffi paints a portrait of a unique historical moment that also resonates with contemporary horrors -- Lucy Scholes BBC Culture 'Ten "Lost" Books You Should Read [Conveys] Teffi's characteristic mixture of precision, comic timing and evasiveness Times Literary Supplement Given the refugee crisis that dominates Europe today, Pushkin Press's publication... could not be timelier... the passage of time has done little to diminish either the pathos of the stories, or the ingenuity of Teffi's prose The National By bringing together Teffi's Memories... and her other autobiographical pieces and reminiscences, collected in Rasputin, the editors present a different Teffi - a chronicler of the tragedy of the Russian revolution The World Today One of Russia's foremost writers and satirists in the early 20th century... Memories is a timely reminder that refugees are not a 21st-century invention The New Internationalist There are shades of Chekhov in the elegant and enthralling prose of this Russian female emigre writer, whose once much-feted work is happily now being rediscovered Bookseller I never imagined such a memoir could be possible, especially about the Russian Civil War. Teffi wears her wisdom lightly, observing farce and foible amid the looming tragedy, in this enthralling book -- Antony Beevor A vividly idiosyncratic personal account of the disintegration - moral, political, strategic - of Tsarist Russia after the Revolution, as alive to the farcical and the ridiculous as it is to the tragic; a bit like what Chekhov might have written if he had lived to experience it -- Michael Frayn I really can't recommend this book highly enough... Teffi's writing is vivid and evocative... I was living the experience alongside her Shiny New Books Fascinating under any circumstances, but... has special poignancy now New Yorker Teffi can write in more registers than you might think, and is capable of being heartbreaking as well as very funny. I wish she were still alive, and I could have met her... I can't recommend her strongly enough -- Nicholas Lezard Guardian A gifted satirist and social observer -- Eileen Battersby Irish Times Teffi's brilliance at capturing the dark comedy of her milieu should no longer prevent her from being recognized as an important European writer TLS Teffi was not only a great wit and an impeccable stylist, but one of the twentieth century's most perceptive and clear-headed observers PEN Atlas [Teffi] succeeds in conveying the sense of claustrophobia and disorientation that are the refugee condition The New York Times Book Review Virtually unknown in English until this series of translations by Pushkin Press -- Peter Pomerantsev London Review of Books
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