Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: October 11, 2022
by Maxim Osipov, edited by Boris Dralyuk, translated from the Russian by Boris Dralyuk, Nicolas Pasternak Slater, and Alex Fleming
An NYRB Classics Original
The November 2022 selection of the NYRB Classics Book Club
The town of Tarusa lies 101 kilometers outside Moscow, far enough to have served, under Soviet rule, as a place where former political prisoners and other “undesirables” could legally settle. Lying between the center of power and the provinces, between the modern urban capital and the countryside, Tarusa is the perfect place from which to observe a Russia that, in Maxim Osipov’s words, “changes a lot [in the course of a decade], but in two centuries—not at all.” The stories and essays in this volume—a follow-up to his debut in English, Rock, Paper, Scissors—tackle major questions of modern life in and beyond Russia with Osipov’s trademark blend of daring and subtlety. Deceit, political pressure, ethnic discrimination, the urge to emigrate, and the fear of abandoning one’s home, as well as myriad generational debts and conflicts, are as complexly woven through these pieces as they are through the lives of Osipov’s fellow Russians and through our own. What binds the prose in this volume is not only a set of concerns, however, but also Osipov’s penetrating insights and fearless realism. “Dreams fall away, one after another,” he writes in the opening essay, “some because they come true, but most because they prove pointless.” Yet, as he reminds us in the final essay, when viewed from ground level, “life tends not towards depletion, towards zero, but, on the contrary, towards repletion, fullness.”
Though Osipov centres Kilometer 101, his second collection of clear-eyed story-telling to appear in English on his former hometown in Russia, the book is at heart about flights and exile....The combination of sharp realism and understated refinement characteristic of Osipov’s prose beautifully conveys the ills, evils and anaesthetizing greyness symptomatic of life in provincial Russia, past and present.... It is impossible to read Kilometer 101 detached from the current political reality.
—Bryan Katetnyk, Financial Times
. . . damning, and at times extremely funny. . . .[the] latest, brilliant collection of Osipov’s works.
—Francesca Peacock, The Spectator World
Now is a difficult time to empathise with Russians – which is why we need Maxim Osipov. We need him to bring alive to us what it means to live in Putin’s Russia. . . .we need him to remind us of the kaleidoscope of qualities that a country like Russia inevitably contains – the humanity and generosity as well as the stupidity and cruelty. . . . when the world is deciding how to deal with the aftermath of Putin’s. . .defeat, I hope Kilometer 101 will be admitted in the Russian people’s defence.
—Charlotte Hobson, The Spectator (UK)
By extending his self-deprecating tone to the mood of an entire country, the author succeeds at conveying the faded hopes of a generation.