Odessa Stories

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 10 Oct 2016

Member Reviews

So it's a collection of somewhat interwoven stories (MFA before MFA was even an MFA!) about the underside of Odessa, the petty crooks, the not-so-petty crooks, their hangers-on, their not-so-hangers-on. But reading it, I couldn't help thinking I'd missed something, like I'd literally forgotten to read an introduction or something because while everything felt familiar, something was just a teensiest bit off. Maybe the translation didn't work for me? Maybe I need more background in that specific time-and-place of Ukrainian/Russian history. It was good and I knew it was good, but I had to keep reminding myself as we went along.

I did appreciate the dark humour, even if I was missing something all the while.

Odessa Stories by Isaac Babel went on sale November 15, 2016.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Down and dirty in Odessa

I had previously only had glancing experiences with Babel, so this was my first real dive into his work. The subject of his stories is Jewish life in Odessa in the early twentieth century, including the foibles and failures of his subjects. Especially the foibles and failures of his subjects, actually, as those were what made good stories. As such, the stories provide an insight into the lives of his subjects, but with a good deal of caricature. Most surprising to me was the significant role of gangsters in the ghetto.

At their best these stories are very good. The problem with inclusiveness is that not all of the stories are of equal interest. But none are particularly long, so there is not a big investment of time in discovering that a story is not much to your taste.

The publisher provided me a copy for review.
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