Maidenhair [Mikhail Shishkin, Marian Schwartz] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. One of the most prominent names in modern Russian. Although Russian author Mikhail Shishkin’s prodigious talent has been recognized for many years in his native Russia, as well as in Germany. One of the most acclaimed authors is Mikhail Shishkin, a multiple-award winner at home and in Europe, whose novel Maidenhair has just been.

Author: Mooguktilar Faurisar
Country: Algeria
Language: English (Spanish)
Genre: Literature
Published (Last): 19 May 2005
Pages: 411
PDF File Size: 3.92 Mb
ePub File Size: 13.31 Mb
ISBN: 140-4-92178-898-8
Downloads: 41599
Price: Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]
Uploader: Kazragal

Maidenhair by Mikhail Shishkin. Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review amidenhair biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do shishki claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers.

Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge and remind and warn you that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure. The complete review ‘s Review:. Maidenhair seems like an unusual novel, first offering one kaidenhair then another, and certainly not offering some story with a nice arc from beginning to end.

The protagonist is known only as ‘the interpreter’. He lives in Switzerland and is employed as a translator for Russian-speaking asylum-seekers and the occasional prisoner when they deal with the authorities.

Years earlier, when he was still living in Russia where he was ‘the teacher’he had been hired by a publisher to write the biography of long-lived singer Bella Dmitrievna, born in Czarist Russia and surviving well past the downfall of the Soviet empire; the project collapsed, but long excerpts from her reminiscences and diaries — the raw material he was to use — are included in the novel. There are also the letters he writes to his son, whom he calls his Nebuchadnezzasaurus, as well as some episodes from his own xhishkin.

Maidenhair consists of a variety of life-accounts.

The biggest chunk is devoted to Bella’s life, but there are also transcriptions of many of the interviews with asylum-seekers where the interpreter is the middle-man neither posing nor answering questions, and yet an essential conduit.


The Swiss official the interpreter works for, Peter Fischer, is the: As he explains about the interrogations: It’s about clarifying circumstances.

The Light and the Dark by Mikhail Shishkin – review

In order to keep them out of paradise, we have to ferret out what really happened. But how can you of people become the stories they tell? That means it’s all very simple. Since you can’t clarify the truth, you at least need to clarify the lie. The stories Peter and the interpreter hear are often horrible — yet clearly, too, the asylum-seekers are manipulating the facts or in some cases even simply inventing stories which they know will make their applications more likely to be accepted.

Early maidenhar an asylum seeker explains: Those speaking may be fictitious, but what they say is real. Truth lies only in where it is concealed. Fine, the people aren’t real but the stories, oh the stories are!

It’s always a sure thing. The people here are irrelevant. It’s the stories that can be authentic or not. You just need to tell an authentic story. Just the way it happened. And not invent anything. We are what we say. A freshly planned destiny is packed with people no one needs, like an ark; all the rest is the floodgates of heaven.

We become what is written in the transcript. Indeed, the focus is on the stories — and so, for example, the interpreter also has little sense of what shsihkin of these people after their interviews, regardless of the outcome: Maidenhair presents this array of life-stories, that range from appropriated ones to the ones people fashion for themselves out of their own facts.

The interpreter is desperate for stories: Foolishly, too, he would occasionally look into his wife’s diary — dhishkin find there the alternative narratives she toyed with, as she clearly never entirely got over the loss of her first love in a tragic accident.

Mikhail Shishkin’s “Maidenhair” – Words Without Borders

Aside from Bella’s diaries and reminiscences, the interpreter also retreats into historical accounts — adapting them to his own reality: The interpreter meets a former teacher while in Rome, and she complains to him: You’re mixing everything up!


You’ve always mixed everything up! Maidenhair displays that confusion — yet the bungling is as revealing as any ostensible clarity. Bella wonders in her reminiscences, looking far, far back: But why do I remember it? Who needs to know about a nonexistent number in a nonexistent cloakroom? After all, no one is going to hang my coat, the hand-me-down from my sisters, on that hook.

And never again in winter after classes will I go down to the cloakroom and pull on the detested thick trousers under my school dress and tie my hood before setting off for home.

My home doesn’t even exist. Nothing I once had now exists. No one and nothing. Shishmin maybe it does. Here it is, before my eyes, the auditorium on the second floor where the windows’ reflections can snake so over the parquet floor. Shishkin is fascinated by the concept of the narratives we create for ourselves, whether entirely imagined, or based on what we think is memory and fact. Yet he doesn’t ram that idea down readers’ throats; he merely offers it here, in many variations, but also allows the stories themselves to be spun out.

It makes for an unusual novel — unusual in the sense that it is unlike what one has encountered before, and unlike what one has come to expect.

It expands, in a small but significant way, our understanding of what the novel can be and do — quite a remarkable achievement. A big, odd novel, well worth experiencing.

Note that the German edition of Maidenhair comes with nearly two-hundred endnotes, while the English version offers little more than footnotes that translate phrases and the like that are in other languages although one also finds the odd lone explanatory footnote Oddly, too, for all the translated German, Latin, French, and Italian names and exchanges, the shout: Orthofer18 November Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs.