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Rock, Paper, Scissors

Rock, Paper, Scissors

And Other Stories

by Maxim Osipov, preface by Svetlana Alexievich, edited by Boris Dralyuk, translated from the Russian by Boris Dralyuk, Alex Fleming, and Anne Marie Jackson

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April 2019 selection of the NYRB Classics Book Club.

Maxim Osipov, who lives and practices medicine in a town ninety miles outside Moscow, is one of Russia’s best contemporary writers. In the tradition of Anton Chekhov and William Carlos Williams, he draws on his experiences in medicine to write stories of great subtlety and striking insight. Osipov’s fiction presents a nuanced, collage-like portrait of life in provincial Russia—its tragedies, frustrations, and moments of humble beauty and inspiration. The twelve stories in this volume depict doctors, actors, screenwriters, teachers, entrepreneurs, local political bosses, and common criminals whose paths intersect in unpredictable yet entirely natural ways: in sickrooms, classrooms, administrative offices and on trains and in planes. Their encounters lead to disasters, major and minor epiphanies, and—on occasion—the promise of redemption.

Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781681373324
Pages: 312
Publication Date:


Nominated for the 2020 Read Russia Prize

In these stories, the borders between hope, delusion and dishonesty are hazy and heavily trafficked . . . Dr. Osipov is a master of dramatic irony, wringing bittersweet humor from what the reader sees but the protagonist cannot.
—Laura Kolbe, The Wall Street Journal

Readers are reminded of Chekov repeatedly throughout the collection . . . This is subtle, honest and unaffected storytelling where the lives of normal people are picked up and examined closely—to remarkable effect.
—Martha Alexander, The Independent

Osipov makes his English-language debut with this masterful and sublime collection, largely set in rural Russian villages . . . This collection showcases Osipov’s talent in creating subtle, sophisticated character portraits that carry a good dose of suspense.
Publishers Weekly, starred review

This short-story collection . . . feels like a journey back in time. Osipov, a practicing doctor, has been compared to Anton Chekhov, owing not only to their shared vocation but also to the Chekhovian way in which Osipov delves into the lives of ordinary people in dismal circumstances.
—Sophie Pinkham, Foreign Affairs

Masterful and often startling stories, suffused with an irony that is as merciless as it is tender.
—Daniel Medin

Maxim Osipov's stories cut me to the quick, because he does what true writers do: he tries to make sense of life with his own mind, puts his soul into the effort, and, most importantly, presents everything in his own words.
—Sergey Gandlevsky

Osipov’s prose—remarkable, transparent, Russian, painful and tough, timely and timeless—is imbued with compassion. It may not always console, but it always gratifies.
—Lev Dodin

Osipov writes not only laconically, but simply, plainly, without going into excessive details but ‘going into’ the essence of contemporary Russian life . . . Irony, Robert Musil once noted in his diaries, combines enmity with compassion. And this is what we find in the work of Maxim Osipov.
—Alexander Livergrant, Novy Mir

Maxim Osipov’s stories are kaleidoscopic. [He] is continuing Russian literature’s great love story with medicine, a flame lit by writer-physicians Mikhail Bulgakov and Anton Chekhov.
—Matthew Janney, The Calvert Journal

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