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Pushkin Hills

Introduced by James Wood, Translated by Katherine Dovlatov

List Price: $15.95

March 17, 2015 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 160 Pages | ISBN 9781619024779

“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.” —New York Review of Books 

An unsuccessful writer and an inveterate alcoholic, Boris Alikhanov has recently divorced his wife Tatyana, and he is running out of money. The prospect of a summer job as a tour guide at the Pushkin Hills Preserve offers him hope of regaining some balance in life as his wife makes plans to emigrate to the West with their daughter Masha, but during Alikhanov’s stay in the rural estate of Mikhaylovskoye, his life continues to unravel.

Populated with unforgettable characters—including Alikhanov’s fellow guides Mitrofanov and Pototsky, and the KGB officer Belyaev—Pushkin Hills ranks among Dovlatov’s renowned works The Suitcase and The Zone as his most personal and poignant portrayal of the Russian attitude towards life and art.

SERGEI DOVLATOV was born in Ufa, Bashkiria (U.S.S.R.), in 1941. He dropped out of the University of Leningrad after two years and was drafted into the army, serving as a guard in high-security prison camps. In 1965 he began to work as a journalist, first in Leningrad and then in Tallinn, Estonia. After a period of intense harassment by the authorities, he emigrated to the United States in 1978. He lived in New York until his death in 1990.

Praise

“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.” —New York Review of Books 

“Narrated in the first person, Alikhanov’s hilarious observations of the community and people around him (‘He was too lazy to put on a hat. He simply laid it on top of his head’), his alcoholic misadventures, and especially his ridicule of the Pushkin Hills Preserve tourists propel this comic but trenchant story…A most satisfying read that sustains its humor and emotional resonance.” —Publishers Weekly Starred Review

“A black comedy of eyes-wide-open excess…and a fine rumination on being Russian, besides.” —Kirkus Starred Review

“A new translation of a Dovlatov novel is like Christmas morning for the English-speaking world; and this one from his daughter, no less. Pushkin Hills, published 30 years ago, is one of his most popular novels in Russia (posthumously, along with all his work).” —The Millions

“If comedy is tragedy plus time, Dovlatov’s deliriously acerbic Pushkin Hills invites an apothegm of its own, Russian comedy is tragedy plus alcohol…This is the third of his books released in English, and the translation by his daughter is a marvel, studded with puns and witty banter. If addiction might be dignified as necessity, Dovlatov, through Boris, has made of necessity a virtue. This is brief, sketchy, episodic, hilarious—in a word, delightful.” —Booklist

“[T]he novel is as much about creativity (writing) in the face of overwhelming censorship as anything else, within the context of a country so decayed that almost everyone wants out…[T]his is a novel replete with memorable but sad characters, informing us how important cultural roots are for artists.” —CounterPunch Magazine

“Thanks to a recent, bravura translation of his novel Pushkin Hills (Zapovednik) by his daughter Katherine…Dovlatov may once again be in the ascendancy.” —Public Books

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