My review of Tatyana Tolstaya’s striking new short story collection, Aetherial Worlds, out earlier this year, is up at PopMatters.
Tolstaya is a leading Russian writer with a well-known literary ancestry. The book has been wonderfully translated by Anya Migdal.
This is a striking collection because of how the stories merge past and present with fantasy through auto-fiction, essays, and allegorical tales.
Tatyana Tolstaya’s second short story collection (translated by Anya Midgal — please see the note at the end) into English in over 20 years, Aetherial Worlds, belongs to the latter kind. What makes this collection of short stories different from all of the above types is how these stories merge commentary on the past and the present through a variety of styles and forms: auto-fiction, essayistic pieces, and allegorical tales. Due to this, they may not be to every reader’s tastes. Yet many themes are deeply investigated: identity, living, dying, loss, loneliness, politics, love, dislocation, the Russian psyche, and more. If further unity is sought, it can be found only in the authorial voice (again, see the note on translation at the end.) Though it ranges from lyrical to acerbic to digressive to journalistic to Russian Literary Master, her voice has its own singular tone — so much so that, oftentimes, a reader might think of a new story as a continuation of the previous one until the character names or setting references prove otherwise.
Read the full review at PopMatters. And please do share with other readers via social media. I try to review excellent books that get little attention from the big websites so more readers can discover them.