Books by Andrew Bromfield

THE SACRED BOOK OF THE WEREWOLF by Victor Pelevin
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Sept. 8, 2008

"A complex, expansive, explosive novel—at times brilliant, at other times tedious—and definitely not for every taste."
The werewolf of the title is both literally and metaphorically a fox, a 2,000-year-old Muscovite prostitute in the body of a 15-year-old. Read full book review >
THE DANCER FROM KHIVA by Bibish
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Aug. 1, 2008

"A candid tale of survival as a woman and a member of an ethnic minority."
Raw, folksy memoir by a woman who migrated from Uzbekistan to Russia and made a good life for herself and her family. Read full book review >
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Feb. 19, 2008

"The lighthearted opening tale is followed by a grisly sequel whose mutilations, many of them described from both the killer's and the investigator's viewpoints, give Patricia Cornwell a run for her money, though without throwing any definitive light on the real-life horrors that inspired them."
Two novella-length cases for Moscow investigator Erast Petrovich Fandorin, the Governor-General's deputy for special assignments (Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog, 2007, etc.). Read full book review >
WAR AND PEACE by Leo Tolstoy
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 4, 2007

         If you're a mountain climber, it's still Everest.  If you're a baseball player, it's the career home-run record.  If you translate from the Russian, sooner or later you'll visit the Colossus:  Leo Tolstoy's enormous masterpiece, whose composition absorbed a decade and whose godlike scope embraces "the intertwining of historical events with the private lives of two very different families of the Russian nobility."

         The words are those of Richard Pevear, who, with his wife Larissa Volokhonsky, has joined the intrepid army of translators including Victorian phenomenon Constance Garrett (who introduced War and Peace to the English-speaking world in 1904) and extending to her countryman Anthony Brigs, whose own new translation appeared to considerable acclaim in 2006.

         The credentials Pevear and Volokhonsky bring to their task (lucid English-language versions of classic works of Dostoevsky, Gogol, and Chekhov; a vibrant Anna Karenina in 2001) might well have discouraged rival translators.  But not Andrew Bromfield, an accomplished scholar-critic perhaps the best known for translating the fiction of contemporary Russian malcontent author Victor Pelevin.

         What's new about Bromfield's War and Peace?  It reproduces the 1866 text:  a leaner version of the novel, written before Tolstoy had conceived the discursive chapters of historical argument that would swell the later full text to nearly 1,500 pages.  Interestingly this "first" version was made available to Russian readers only as recently as 2000.

         Pevear and Volokhonsky give us the whole animal, and claim for translation the distinction of reproducing fully Tolstoy's use of foreign languages (particularly French - considered more "elegant" by the aristocracy, even, one infers, after Napoleon was threatening to incinerate their homeland).  Inevitably, their version seems ampler, more scrupulously descriptive and analytical.  But there are other, subtler differences:  for example, in the following account of a wolf hunt, which is a metaphor for the approaching death throes of the old landed aristocracy:

 

         "The wolf was already at the edge of the wood, he paused in his run,   turned his grey head awkwardly towards the dogs, in the way someone        sick with angina turns his head and, with the same gentle rolling movement, leapt once, then again, and the last thing they saw was his tail         disappearing into the wood."  (Bromfield)

 

         "The wolf slowed his flight, turned his big-browed head towards the dogs       awkwardly, as if suffering from angina, and, swaying just as softly, leaped     once, twice, and, with a wag of his tail, disappeared into the bushes."  (Pevear and Volokhonsky)

 

         One can heartily recommend Bromfield's translation to readers new to War and Peace, but for a fuller sense of Tolstoy's comprehensive and commanding artistic mastery, Pevear and Volokhonsky remain unchallenged as the A-team of Russian translators.

Read full book review >
NONFICTION
Released: June 18, 2007

Lugovskaya began her diary about her life in Moscow in 1932 when she was 13. Read full book review >

SISTER PELAGIA AND THE WHITE BULLDOG by Boris Akunin
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Jan. 30, 2007

"The middling whodunit plays second fiddle to a remarkable achievement: not only to link The Brothers Karamazov to Agatha Christie, but to develop in considerable detail the grounds on which Dostoevsky's tragedy and Christie's escapist puzzles meet."
A Russian nun who could be a cousin of Miss Marple untangles a mystery out of Dostoevsky. Read full book review >
THE DEATH OF ACHILLES by Boris Akunin
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 25, 2006

"This time, however, the author's trademark playfulness is subordinated to a relatively sober account that makes this the most straightforward, even conventional, of Fandorin's adventures."
Collegiate Assessor Erast Petrovich Fandorin meets his match when he investigates the death of a beloved Russian general. Read full book review >
Released: April 18, 2006

"Admirers of Pelevin's fiction should attempt it. But it's too much of a maze—and there's nothing to show the way out."
The classical myth is reinterpreted with black-comic brio in this odd new novel from the internationally acclaimed Russian author (The Life of Insects, 1998, etc.). Read full book review >
THE TURKISH GAMBIT by Boris Akunin
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 15, 2005

"Solid historical background and a dryly jaundiced view of the rivalries among military heroes and wannabes don't elevate this period piece or its stock characters to the realm of Fandorin's remarkable retro puzzler Murder on the Leviathan (2004)."
Imperturbable Titular Counselor Erast Petrovich Fandorin hunts a traitor who's undermining Russian efforts against the Ottoman Empire in 1877. Read full book review >
GIVE ME (SONGS FOR LOVERS) by Irina Denezhkina
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 1, 2005

"All edge, no blade. Wait for her next."
Russian youth smoke, drink, fight, make out, hang out: an unremarkable collection about the rough young-adult world for the young-adult reader, though complete with violence, blue language and cigarettes. Read full book review >
MONUMENTAL PROPAGANDA by Vladimir Voinovich
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 20, 2004

"Not Voinovich's very best, but a welcome addition to a brilliantly subversive and hugely entertaining body of work."
The great Russian satirist (Moscow 2042, 1987, etc.) observes a devoted Stalinist's difficult passage through the years that follow the toppling of her idol. Read full book review >
THE NAKED PIONEER GIRL by Mikhail Kononov
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 1, 2004

"Outrageously funny for the first few chapters, but wears very thin and becomes quite tedious in short order: Kononov's humor depends on familiarity with the pomposities of Soviet mythology that will be lost on most Americans."
Over-the-top first novel from Russia that butchers an entire stockyard full of sacred communist cows in its account of the military and erotic exploits of a 15-year-old girl during the Siege of Leningrad. Read full book review >
MURDER ON THE LEVIATHAN by Boris Akunin
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 4, 2004

"The imperial/aristocratic milieu pays homage to Agatha Christie, the fiendlishly clever Chinese-box plotting to Ellery Queen. Akunin's most distinctive contribution is a tone of dryly amused irony that continues to the last sad line."
This exemplary retro period puzzler, a Russian bestseller, pits two detectives against each other in a race to pick the murderer from a table of first-class passengers aboard a British steamship's maiden voyage. Read full book review >
HOMO ZAPIENS by Victor Pelevin
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 18, 2002

"A little too scattered and willfully antic to rank with Pelevin's best. Nevertheless, further proof that this merry satirist wears the mantle of Gogol, Bely, and Bulgakov with more flair than almost any other contemporary novelist."
The world of advertising gets a richly comic comeuppance in this latest (1999) novel by the hip absurdist (Buddha's Little Finger, 2000, etc.). Read full book review >
BUDDHA'S LITTLE FINGER by Victor Pelevin
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 1, 2000

A strangely discordant yet generally quite compelling political novel from the prize-winning (and remarkably productive) young Russian writer (The Life of Insects; A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia, both 1998, etc.). Read full book review >