Marian Schwartz's new English translation of Envy brilliantly captures the energy of Olesha's masterpiece.
Yuri Olesha (1899-1960) participated in the heroic period of restless experimentation which took place in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and which produced the masterpieces of Malevich, Babel, and Platonov. Marian Schwartz has been translating fiction and non-fiction for over twenty-five years. Her work includes Edvard Radzinksy's The Last Tsar and the works of Nina Berberova.
"In his best novel, all wry humor and narrowed eyes, Olesha
presents two sides of the same coin: a self-satisfied sausage king
and a drunken failure the former picks up in the street. Poetic and
satiric and quite an achievement, it is a novel everyone should
Olesha wrote only one novel, Envy. The book was published in 1927, 10 years after the Bolshevik Revolution and a few years before the net of socialist realism fell on Russian writers....The narrative is driven by the narrator's bitter, poetic commentary on the world. The characters represent, loosely, aspects of the new Soviet ethos. Vladimir Nabokov had a low opinion of almost everything produced in Russia after his departure, but he admired Olesha's writing.
- Columbus Dispatch
In his best fiction, the short novel Envy, Olesha writes about the clash of two worlds, but with a wry, half-defeated yet touchingly affectionate irony that seems entirely his own.
- Irving Howe, Harper's
Olesha's stories are supreme and timeless cinema. To read his triumphant short novel Envy is to see it, to find the pages transformed into a screen on which to behold man's heroic confrontation with the monsters of his own creation...Every page of Olesha demands to be read and seen again.
- The New York Times