Book Review | Lyudmila Ulitskaya’s short stories tell a miraculously and fast-paced account of aging, body decay and the nearness of death

Russian Lyudmila Ulitskaya is a beautiful soul – in a good way.

Short stories

Lyudmila Ulitskaya: In the Soul Room (Rasskazy o tele duši). Arja Pikkupeura, Finland. Siltala. 130 s.

Russian classics friends are often divided Anton Chekhov– Yes Leo Tolstoy to humans. Russian Jew Lyudmila Ulitskaya (b. 1943) as a writer is in a way in the footsteps of both, but at the same time does something completely his own and new.

Echoes of Tolstoy’s epic and atheist novel can be felt in Ulitskaya’s great novels Under the green tent (2010, in Finnish 2014) and Daniel Stein (2006, Finnish 2016). Chekhov’s psychological in-depth sounding can be found in Ulitskaya’s short stories, which are now in fourth collection in Finnish.

The body of the soul the themes are hairy: aging, deterioration of the body, diseases and fears. At the same time, an account is made of the knots, secrets, and forbidden passions accumulated throughout life.

That’s where the Czechism comes to an end. In relation to his themes, Ulitskaya is a mind-boggling and wild writer, a romance freedom freedom and the eternal Peter Pan as Patti Smith in the western hemisphere.

Short story Two depicts the sweet conversation of married sex, the expeditions of two human bodies, and the feeling of novelty found every time. Towards the end, it is revealed that the man is the wife’s caregiver. Even if physics no longer carries, memories and imagination remain.

Alisa in death trades bites into the love of the sixties and seventies. Sophisticated, Alisa, who has cherished her independence all her life, is frightened by a scene of unconsciousness, wants to leave the world with dancing shoes on her feet and contacts doctor Alexander Yefimovich. The goal is to get a sufficient dose of sleeping pills.

Follow a romance that lacks the fervor, absoluteness, and emotional storms of first love.

To two cakes, Friends and From the body of the soul the divisible collection is an even narrower narrative: three- or four-page short prose text can hold destinies of life, 10–15 pages for several generations.

We are far from the laconic nature of Finnish short prose. Ulitskaja’s stories are still as breathtakingly full and plot-driven as ever. And there is nothing left in them to miss.

In her previous collections, Ulitskaya has convinced the Soviet archipelago as an encyclopedist, especially as a detailed illustrator of women’s lives.

This time, from the worlds of pie recipes, herbal tea, dormitories, trolley buses and everyday absurdism, one goes straight to heaven, into the atmosphere of a miracle tale or ghost story. Even Mikhail Bulgakov referred to.

Moscow State University Ulitskaya, trained as a geneticist, discovered the Orthodox faith as early as his samizdat years.

Daniel Stein, a semi – documentary and experimentally layered novel about Russian and Eastern European Jews in the Holy Land builds a synthesis between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The work won the Bolshaya Kniga and Russian Booker awards, but angered conservatives.

In the body of the soul will continue with world-class broadband. South Caucasian mythology as well as the rich traditions of Russian esoteric philosophy and mysticism come into play.

Ulitskaya is enthusiastic about phenomena that go beyond both the materialistic worldview and the understanding of the guardians of ecclesiastical dogma.

Autopsy is a modern apocryphal gospel or legend of saints. It tells the story of Volya, a flutist and street musician raised by her cleaning mother, whose life acquires strange Christian features.

American Russian author-editor Masha Gessen has called Ulitskaya, in every good sense, a “beautiful-hearted” writer. For this he does not mean naivety or an uncovered dream drive, but curiosity about the most diverse phenomena of life. People and the world can also do well.

There is also something about beautiful souls in Ulitskaya’s roaring, smiling words and a bit of a 19th-century narrative. His translator Arja Pikkupeura once again reaches the rhythm and swing of life-friendly rogue storytelling.

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