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This review is taken from PN Review 53, Volume 13 Number 3, January - February 1987.

THREADS OF HISTORY Yuri Trifonov, Another Life, translated from the Russian by Michael Glenny (Abacus) £2.50 pb.
Yuz Aleshkovsky, Kangaroo, translated from the Russian by Tamara Glenny (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) $17.95

Yuri Trifonov is one of the few modern Soviet writers to make a mark in the English publishing world. The works of Soviet authors are generally considered too primitive for the sophisticated Western reader, or there is simply not sufficient interest in them to warrant publication. Trifonov's Another Life, is, however, the second volume of his to be brought out by Abacus, which had earlier published The House on the Embankment. This recognition outside his own country is a mark of Trifonov's achievement. Here is no exile from a totalitarian state immediately sympathetic to the Western reader, but a Soviet author, and both The House on the Embankment and Another Life were first published in the USSR. Both works caused something of a stir when they came out. Trifonov, who died in 1981 at the age of fifty-five, belonged to that breed of Soviet authors who, while not resorting to publication abroad or samizdat, nevertheless stood against the flow of the official literary current. His novels do not portray Soviet reality in a particularly favourable light. As a result of this 'intermediate position', Trifonov came under attack both from official circles in his own country who exhorted him to toe the line, and from émigré critics who saw his independence as sham and felt he was being used by the authorities in a public relations exercise designed to demonstrate a 'liberalization' which had no substance. What has angered both groups of critics is the lack of an overt political ...


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