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Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781681374888
Pages: 192
Publication Date: August 18, 2020

Unwitting Street

by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, translated from the Russian by Joanne Turnbull

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An NYRB Classics Original

August 2020 selection of the NYRB Classics Book Club.

When Comrade Punt does not wake up one Moscow morning—he has died—his pants dash off to work without him. The ambitious pants soon have their own office and secretary. So begins the first of eighteen superb examples of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s philosophical and phantasmagorical stories. Where the stories included in two earlier NYRB collections (Memories of the Future and Autobiography of a Corpse) are denser and darker, the creations in Unwitting Street are on the lighter side: an ancient goblet brimful of self-replenishing wine drives its owner into the drink; a hypnotist’s attempt to turn a fly into an elephant backfires; a philosopher’s free-floating thought struggles against being “enlettered” in type and entombed in a book; the soul of a politician turned chess master winds up in one of his pawns; an unsentimental parrot journeys from prewar Austria to Soviet Russia.


These philosophical, melancholic, darkly funny tales merit a place beside those of Kafka, Borges, and Calvino.
Kirkus, starred review

This collection . . . mixes playful and morose tones in stories of the kooky and the condemned . . . clever and satirical in his descriptions, Krzhizhanovsky is at his best when finding levity in grave revelations.
Publishers Weekly

Krzhizhanovsky found his definitive English voice in the Moscow-based translator Joanne Turnbull. . . . Turnbull has co-created Krzhizhanovsky’s best phantasmagorical modernist fictions in paperbacks published by New York Review Books.
—Caryl Emerson