Encyclopedia of a Life in Russia by Jose Manuel Prieto

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If you...are interested in a postmodernist novel that’s sort of about post-Soviet Russia, you might enjoy tackling Prieto’s The Encyclopedia of a Life in Russia.
-NY Journal of Books

Synopsis

In Encyclopedia of a Life in Russia, acclaimed author José Manuel Prieto has masterfully crafted a kaleidoscopic portrait of post-Communist Russia. Strikingly poetic and cleverly humorous, it's the story of two misfits caught between old world traditions and the lure of contemporary Western influences as they set off on an adventure to immerse themselves in the beauty of the world.

Thelonius Monk (not his real name) and Linda Evangelista (not her real name) meet in Saint Petersburg after the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991. They journey to Yalta, where Thelonius promises to make Linda famous in the fashion magazines. But in fact, he's drafting a novel about her. Over the course of their travels, the two indulge in all sorts of sensual amusements—extravagant dinners, luxury automobiles, seaside hotels—while they engage in grand discussions of love, art, celebrity, and other existential polarities.

Alphabetically organized from Abacus to Zizi, this book defies chronology and conformity. Finding the sublime in the trivial through meditations on wildly varied subjects of fact and fancy—from Bach and Dostoyevsky to Italian alligator shoes and fluoride toothpaste—Prieto ardently explores the crossroads of literature, philosophy, history, and pop culture in this singular novel that captures a nation straddling custom and innovation.
 

About Jose Manuel Prieto

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Monique Chefdor, founder of the Blaise Cendrars International Society, is the author of Blaise Cendrars (1980) and editor of "Blaise Cendrars-Jacques Henry Levesque, 1924-1959" in the "Oeuvres completes de Blaise" "Cendrars" (1991). She has had an international scholarly career with teaching assignments in Africa, England, and the United States. She now teaches comparative literature at the University of Picardy in Amiens, France. Her cotranslator, Esther Allen, received her Ph. D. in comparative literature from New York University in 1991 and is also the translator of Octavio Paz's Xavier Villaurrutia: Hieroglyphs of Desire.
 
Published January 8, 2013 by Grove Press, Black Cat. 180 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure. Fiction
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NY Journal of Books

Above average
Reviewed by Ariel Balter on Jan 08 2013

If you...are interested in a postmodernist novel that’s sort of about post-Soviet Russia, you might enjoy tackling Prieto’s The Encyclopedia of a Life in Russia.

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