Tales from the Don (1924)

December 21, 2011

On the Tube read the first story in Mikhail Sholokov’s Tales from the Don, ‘The Birthmark’ (1924) and was so shocked and upset I couldn’t read the next one. Reminded me of the early Hemingway short stories in that it’s about taciturn men in extremis, and short and brutal; but the actual style is much more descriptive and adjectival. 284 pages of brutal Russian civil war stories.

Picked it up in a second hand book shop, and it looks like this volume of stories and Sholokov’s famous novels, And Quiet Flows the Don and The Don Flows Home To the Sea are all out of print. Sholokov won the Nobel Prize in 1965. In the coming weeks I guess I’ll discover why he’s slipped so comprehensively off the map…

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