It’s not quite idiomatic—for that there’s Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky’s version—but the translation moves easily...




“ ‘I don’t need any…translations,’ muttered Raskolnikov.” Well, of course he does, hence this new translation of an old standby of Russian-lit survey courses.

Driven to desperation, a morally sketchy young man kills and kills again. He gets away with it—at least for a while, until a psychologically astute cop lays a subtle trap. Throw in a woman friend who hints from the sidelines that he might just feel better confessing, and you have—well, maybe not Hercule Poirot or Kurt Wallender, but at least pretty familiar ground for an episode of a PBS series or Criminal Minds. The bare bones of that story, of course, are those of Crime and Punishment, published in 1866, when Dostoyevsky was well on the road from young democrat to middle-aged reactionary: thus the importance of confession, nursed along by the naughty lady of the night with the heart of gold, and thus Dostoyevsky’s digs at liberal-inclined intellectuals (“That’s what they’re like these writers, literary men, students, loudmouths…Damn them!”) and at those who would point to crimes great and small and say that society made them do it. So Rodion Raskolnikov, who does a nasty pawnbroker, “a small, dried-up miserable old woman, about sixty years old, with piercing, malicious little eyes, a small sharp nose, and her bare head,” in with an ax, then takes it to her sister for good measure. It’s to translator Katz’s credit that he gives the murder a satisfyingly grotty edge, with blood spurting and eyes popping and the like. Much of the book reads smoothly, though too often with that veneer of translator-ese that seems to overlie Russian texts more than any other; Katz's version sometimes seems to slip into Constance Garnett–like fustiness, as when, for instance, Raskolnikov calls Svidrigaylov "a crude villain...voluptuous debaucher and scoundrel.”

It’s not quite idiomatic—for that there’s Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky’s version—but the translation moves easily and legibly enough through Raskolnikov’s nasty deeds, game of cat and mouse, and visionary redemption.

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63149-033-0

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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With her second novel, Ng further proves she’s a sensitive, insightful writer with a striking ability to illuminate life in...

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This incandescent portrait of suburbia and family, creativity, and consumerism burns bright.

It’s not for nothing that Ng (Everything I Never Told You, 2014) begins her second novel, about the events leading to the burning of the home of an outwardly perfect-seeming family in Shaker Heights, Ohio, circa 1997, with two epigraphs about the planned community itself—attesting to its ability to provide its residents with “protection forever against…unwelcome change” and “a rather happy life” in Utopia. But unwelcome change is precisely what disrupts the Richardson family’s rather happy life, when Mia, a charismatic, somewhat mysterious artist, and her smart, shy 15-year-old daughter, Pearl, move to town and become tenants in a rental house Mrs. Richardson inherited from her parents. Mia and Pearl live a markedly different life from the Richardsons, an affluent couple and their four high school–age children—making art instead of money (apart from what little they need to get by); rooted in each other rather than a particular place (packing up what fits in their battered VW and moving on when “the bug” hits); and assembling a hodgepodge home from creatively repurposed, scavenged castoffs and love rather than gathering around them the symbols of a successful life in the American suburbs (a big house, a large family, gleaming appliances, chic clothes, many cars). What really sets Mia and Pearl apart and sets in motion the events leading to the “little fires everywhere” that will consume the Richardsons’ secure, stable world, however, is the way they hew to their own rules. In a place like Shaker Heights, a town built on plans and rules, and for a family like the Richardsons, who have structured their lives according to them, disdain for conformity acts as an accelerant, setting fire to the dormant sparks within them. The ultimate effect is cataclysmic. As in Everything I Never Told You, Ng conjures a sense of place and displacement and shows a remarkable ability to see—and reveal—a story from different perspectives. The characters she creates here are wonderfully appealing, and watching their paths connect—like little trails of flame leading inexorably toward one another to create a big inferno—is mesmerizing, casting into new light ideas about creativity and consumerism, parenthood and privilege.

With her second novel, Ng further proves she’s a sensitive, insightful writer with a striking ability to illuminate life in America.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2429-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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