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#Russophonia: New Writing in Russian

February 2021

Aureliya Akmullayeva, from the triptych Daydreams. Courtesy of the artist.

This month we spotlight new writing in Russian. Much of the Russophone literary conversation takes place online, in a vibrant context of immediacy and responsiveness to social and political events, and is conducted by writers from a range of non-Russian backgrounds. The writers here address identity, feminism, war, and the particular nature of post-Soviet existence in work that subverts traditional notions of Russian literature. Alisa Ganieva portrays a car crash turned existential debate. Ukrainian poet Danyil Zadorozhnyi limns the agony of a country at war. Novelist Olga Breininger crashes a G20 summit, while poet Xenia Emelyanova refracts politics through a maternal lens. Alla Gorbunova flashes on disorienting scenes of daily life; slam poet Dinara Rasuleva interrogates nationality; Ksenia Zheludova puts lyric poetry to political use. And Galina Rymbu interviews editor and poet Ilya Danishevsky on bringing complex literary networks from the digital realm to a print readership. Guest editors Hilah Kohen and Josephine von Zitzewitz contribute an informative introduction to this scintillating literature.

Young Russophonia: New Literature in Russian
By Hilah Kohen & Josephine von Zitzewitz
These writings spark immediate conversations through rapid-fire literary texts rather than typical online commentary.
Munkar and Nakir
By Alisa Ganieva
“Driving here, did you know you’d die today?”
Translated from Russian by Sabrina Jaszi
Letter to Ukraine
By Danyil Zadorozhnyi
Like the border between the word leave / and the concept of returning
Translated from Russian by Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler & Reilly Costigan-Humes
There Was No Adderall in the Soviet Union
By Olga Breininger
I am the same sort of export as a Kalashnikov rifle or our great suicidal writers.
Translated from Russian by Hilah Kohen
blurry image of the Church of the Resurrection of Christ in St. Petersburg behind a canal
Murashko olga, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
About Time to Smile at Homeless People
By Dinara Rasuleva
Dinara Rasuleva questions received notions of home and national identity in this poem about her relationship to Russia.
Translated from Russian by Hilah Kohen
Stories from “Ings & Oughts”
By Alla Gorbunova
It wasn’t a plane at all, but a car flying through the sky.
Translated from Russian by Elina Alter
Three Observations, Untitled
By Ksenia Zheludova
The most horrible things, remember this, are incremental.
Translated from Russian by Josephine von Zitzewitz
Destined from Birth
By Xenia Emelyanova
Enough of their butchery.
Translated from Russian by Katherine E. Young
“Reality (Unfortunately?) Varies”: A Conversation Between Galina Rymbu and Ilya Danishevsky
By Galina Rymbu
“It seems to me—perhaps naively—that poetry has the ability to examine things in a maximally authentic way.”
Translated from Russian by Anne O. Fisher & Helena Kernan