Tatyana Tolstaya

Tatyana Tolstaya lives in Moscow and has been exotically described by Josef Brodsky as ‘the most original, tactile, luminous voice in Russian prose today’. Her collection of short stories, On the Golden Porch, is discussed by Penelope Fitzgerald. ‘Discovering America’ was translated by Lesley Chamberlain.

Discovering America

Tatyana Tolstaya, 1 June 1989

‘Russia – isn’t that somewhere east of Boston?’ asked the American airport official. In a sense, she was quite right: if you think about it, the whole world lies east of Boston. That’s why I love Americans. They take me back to the beautiful lost world of my sons’ childhood, when every question made one feel a solid, knowledgeable grown-up person, though weighed down with the sad and shameful experience of cynicism, deceit, habitual untruth, insoluble moral problems, with the burden of Europe’s bloody history, and also with the awareness of one’s own mortality – experience from which one would like to protect one’s children.’

Big Thinks

Patricia Beer, 20 August 1992

Tatyana Tolstaya’s collection of short stories, On the golden Porch, published in Britain in 1989, was received with hysterical enthusiasm. Some rather silly things were said, like...

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Russian Women

Penelope Fitzgerald, 1 June 1989

Tatyana Nikitichna, her publishers keep reassuring us, is ‘descended from the Tolstoys’ – that’s to say, from Aleksey Tolstoy, not the one who wrote nonsense verse (with...

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