Paustovsky imbued Soviet literature with tender curiosity about ordinary people and loving care for the natural world. He captured all the beauty, turbulence and injustice of his youth, and the strange blend of horrific violence and intoxicating hope that arrived with the revolution.
—Sophie Pinkham, The Washington Post
At its best, The Story of a Life rivals any autobiography in world literature. Its hero is imagination itself.
—Gary Saul Morson, Wall Street Journal
The quality of [Paustovsky's] narrative imagination make The Story of a Life, the Proust-length autobiography he started in 1943, a masterpiece.
—Julian Evans, Daily Telegraph
In Douglas Smith's revelatory new translation of the first three volumes, late imperial Russia and Ukraine, the Revolution and the Civil War are observed with astounding clarity and originality. . . . Smith's limpid and outstandingly readable translation finally captures this unique voice, and should assure Konstantin Paustovsky's monumental autobiography a substantial new readership.
—Polly Jones, TLS
One of the great Russian autobiographies, as fresh now as the day it was written—and the day it was lived.
The Story of a Life combines high drama with heroic misadventure in a comico-lyrical amalgam of history and domestic detail that enchants from start to finish. . . . The book is brimful of vivid character sketches, racy incidents and sharp-focused vignettes. Passages of striking lyric beauty. . . . The Story of a Life radiates a terrific vim and thirst for experience. A more gloriously life-affirming book is unlikely to emerge this year.
—Ian Thomson, The Spectator
Paustovksy’s gift is in vivid and humane presentation of the numberless figures who populate his life. . . . For Paustovsky, books are like stars in the darkness, and ‘literature draws us closer to the golden age of our thoughts, our feelings and our actions’. He was, unquestionably, a part of that golden age, and now with this lively new translation of his memoir, he can be again.
—John Self, The Times
Paustovsky is neither sanguine, nor scathing about communist life, while his prose is highly observational, free from argumentation or theoretical prattle. Instead, he details the emergence of his individual consciousness, dedicated to writing, his country, and the cultivation of a rich inner life, which, set against the developments of early 20th century Ukraine and Russia, makes for a compelling ground-level work of historical testimony.
— Matt Janney, The Calvert Journal
A mid-century Soviet Thoreau.
—Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker