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Kilometer 101

Kilometer 101

by Maxim Osipov, edited by Boris Dralyuk, translated from the Russian by Boris Dralyuk, Nicolas Pasternak Slater, and Alex Fleming

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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.”

Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781681376868
Pages: 296
Publication Date:


Artfully conventional, Chekhovian collection of tales and essays.
—Peter Keough, The Arts Fuse

The six successive short stories underscore the varieties and consequences of exile (physical and emotional) and the enduring nature of compassion amidst emigration and death. . . . The four autobiographical essays reiterate the struggles exposed in the short fictions. Throughout—in fiction or nonfiction—Osipov deftly combines illuminating insights of modern Russia with the poignancies of emigrating.
—Robert Allen Papinchak, World Literature Today

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.
Publishers Weekly

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