Northern Illinois University Press

Trepanation of the Skull

Sergey Gandlevsky

Susanne Fusso

“Trepanation of the Skull is widely recognized as one of the most important books published in the post-Soviet period, a truly philosophical novel that explores the fictional nature of truth and reality. Susanne Fusso’s wonderful translation demonstrates both her outstanding knowledge of the Russian language and Russian culture and her sensitivity to Gandlevsky’s mode of writing.”—Alexandra Smith, University of Edinburgh

“That the poetry of [Gandlevsky’s] prose resonates in translation is a tribute to Susanne Fusso’s mastery of both modern, colloquial Russian and Gandlevsky’s milieu.” —World Literature Today

“Susanne Fusso has done an admirable job with this immensely complicated text.” —The Russian Review

Sergey Gandlevsky is widely recognized as one of the leading living Russian poets and prose writers. His autobiographical novella Trepanation of the Skull is a portrait of the artist as a young late-Soviet man. At the center of the narrative are Gandlevsky’s brain tumor, surgery, and recovery in the early 1990s. The story radiates out, relaying the poet’s personal history through 1994, including his unique perspective on the 1991 coup by Communist hardliners resisted by Boris Yeltsin. Gandlevsky tells wonderfully strange but true episodes from the bohemian life he and his literary companions led. He also frankly describes his epic alcoholism and his ambivalent adjustment to marriage and fatherhood.

Aside from its documentary interest, the book’s appeal derives from its selfcritical and shockingly honest narrator, who expresses himself in the densely stylized version of Moscow slang that was characteristic of the nonconformist intelligentsia of the 1970s and 1980s. Gandlevsky is a true artist of language who incorporates into his style the cadences of Pushkin and Tiutchev, the folk wisdom of proverbs, and slang in all its varieties. Susanne Fusso’s excellent translation marks the first volume in English of Sergey Gandlevsky’s prose, and it will interest scholars, students, and general readers of Russian literature and culture of the late Soviet and post-Soviet periods.

Oct 2014 5.5x8.5 200 pages 3 illus.
ISBN 978-0-87580-715-7
$29.95t Paper

Susanne Fusso is professor of Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at Wesleyan University. Her most recent book is Discovering Sexuality in Dostoevsky. She is the translator and editor of Vladimir Sergeevich Trubetskoi’s A Russian Prince in the Soviet State: Hunting Stories, Letters from Exile, and Military Memoirs.

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-715-7
paper $29.95