1st Edition

Present Imperfect Stories By Russian Women

By Ayesha Kagal, Natasha Perova Copyright 1996

    The selections in this Anthology overturn Soviet-era taboos with a vengeance. First published in the aftermath of Mikhail Gorbachev's liberalizing reforms, these stories revel in the basic commonalities of human experience even as they reassert a peculiarly Russian belief in the spiritual, mystical, and supernatural. They satirize Soviet literary canons while exploring a full gamut of styles, from neorealism to magico-folkloric fantasy. Included in the volume are works by well-known pioneers of the "new women's prose" as well as by less familiar talents. Bold in thematic conception and stylistic experimentation, their stories are socially engaged–in the classic Russian literary tradition–and yet at the same time intensely personal. While many of these writers share a feminist outlook, their perspectives are vastly disparate and often steeped in a peculiarly post-Soviet irony: In one story, for example, a girl with no money and no prospects of earning any turns to prostitution–and fails because of her lack of entrepreneurial talent. Yet common to all are recurrent and interwoven motifs of self-discovery, sexual power, emotional attachment, social alienation, and vulnerability to uncontrollable forces. The ambiguous ways in which these themes are played out reveal much about what has changed and what remains at the core of a complex culture in transition.

    Introduction -- March 1953 -- Piggy -- Conscience Deluded -- The Three "Loves" of Masha Peredreeva -- The Game -- Witch's Tears -- Steps -- A Marriage of Convenience -- Cabiria from the Bypass -- Kozlov's Nights


    Ayesha Kagal is Moscow correspondent for the Times of India. Natasha Perova is editor of the acclaimed Slavic literary journal Glas and lives in Moscow. Helena Goscilo is professor of Slavic languages, literatures, and cultures at the University of Pittsburgh.