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Berberova's wonderful novel about three love affairs... Like Turgenev and Chekhov, of whom she is the rightful heir, is uncannily shrewd about romance, about its bright promise, without making her characters' real satisfaction seem trite.

New York Review of Books

Nina Berberova

20th century Russian immigrant novelist and short story writer who settled in Paris

Nina Berberova (1901–1993), born in St. Petersburg, left Russia in 1922, lived in Germany, Czechoslovakia and Italy, and finally settled in Paris in 1925. There she wrote prolifically for publication in the émigré press. She came to the United States in 1951 and taught at Yale and Princeton. In France, she was honored as a Chevalier of the French Order of Arts and Letters. She passed away in 1993.


Billancourt Tales

Fiction by Nina Berberova

translated by Marian Schwartz

Billancourt Tales collects thirteen superb stories from those Nina Berberova wrote in Paris between 1928 and 1940 for the émigré newspaper The Latest News. In Berberova’s own words, these stories contain traces of “human tears that were more like the drop formations on a piece of Edam cheese than the dew on a rose petal.” Billancourt, a highly industrialized suburb of Paris, gave Berberova her subject. Here thousands of exiled Russians — White Guards, civilians, and Berberova herself — were finding work and establishing a home away from home with their Russian churches, schools, and small business ventures. Berberova thought the significance of the tales was in their historical and sociological aspects — and yet these fine stories are the kind that have led to comparisons to Chekhov. They portray a wide range of human beings and the twists and turns of their various lives. Sometimes amusing, sometimes sad, these stories show Nina Berberova at her very best: “her appeal remains strong, and becomes stronger still, because she was both participant and chronicler, because she experienced and imagined.” (Yale Review).



The Accompanist

Fiction by Nina Berberova

translated by Marian Schwartz

A spellbinding, short novel set in post-revolutionary Russia, The Accompanist portrays with extraordinary sensitivity the entangled relationships of three characters. Sonechka is a talented but shy young pianist hired by a beautiful soprano, Maria Nikolaevna, and her devoted, bourgeois husband. Maria is everything Sonechka is not, glamorous, flamboyant. Her voice brings with it "something immortal and indisputable, something which gives reality to the human being’s dream of having wings." Doomed to live in her mentor’s shadow, the young girl secretly schemes to expose the singer’s infidelities. But as she awaits her chance, the diva’s husband takes matters into his own hands, bringing events to a surprising resolution. This intense and beautiful little novel, written in 1936, was first published in America almost fifty years after it was written; now available in paperback, it is a wonderfully compelling and crucial addition to Nina Berberova’s magnificent oeuvre.



The Book of Happiness

Fiction by Nina Berberova

translated by Marian Schwartz

The Book of Happiness is the most autobiographical of the novels the great Russian writer Nina Berberova (1901-1993) wrote during the years she lived in Paris. "All Berberova’s characters live raw, unfurnished lives, in poverty, on the edge of cities, with little sense of belonging––except in moments of epiphany––to their time and in life itself" (The Observer). Such a character is Vera, the protagonist of The Book of Happiness. At the novel’s opening, Vera is summoned to the scene of a suicide, that of her closest childhood companion, Sam Adler, whose family left Russia in the early days of the revolution and whom Vera has not seen in many years. From here Berberova spins the story with a wonderful unsentimental poignancy, creating a lasting testament to the indestructibility of happiness.



The Tattered Cloak

Fiction by Nina Berberova

translated by Nina Berberova

First published in Europe in the 1930s and 40s, these searing, evocative stories by the late Russian expatriate writer Nina Berberova (1901-1993) are portraits of the lives of Russian exiles in Paris on the eve of World War II. The protagonists range from housekeepers and waiters to shabby-genteel aristocrats and intellectuals––but all are united in a haunting displacement from their pasts, and all share a troubling uncertainty about the future.


Available: June 01 2001


The Ladies from St. Petersburg

Fiction by Nina Berberova


Writing with a resonating clarity, unsentimental yet full of human sympathy, Nina Berberova stands as one of the treasures of twentieth-century literature and the continuance of the great Russian tradition. The Ladies from St. Petersburg contains three novellas which chronologically paint a picture of the dawn of the Russian Revolution, the flight from its turmoil, and the plight of an exile in a new and foreign place all of which Berberova knew from her own personal experience. In the title story the protagonists are taking a vacation, unaware that their lives are about to be irrevocably changed. In “Zoya Andreyevna,” an elegant, privileged woman, in headlong flight, falls ill among unfriendly strangers who resent her wealth and position even though she does not flaunt them. In "The Big City," an emigrant lands in a surreal New York City, a place that is not yet, and may never be, his home.


Available: May 01 2000


Cape of Storms

Fiction by Nina Berberova

translated by Marian Schwartz

In Cape of Storms, Nina Berberova portrays a very specific generation––one born in Russia, displaced by the Revolution, and trying to adapt to a new home, Paris. Three sisters––Dasha, Sonia, and Zai––share the same father, Tiagen, an attractive, weak-willed, womanizing White Russian, but each thinks differently about her inner world of beliefs and aspirations, and consequently each follows a different path. Dasha marries and leaves for a bourgeois expatriate life in colonial Africa. Zai, the youngest, and an appealing adolescent, flirts with becoming an actress or a poet. Sonia, the middle daughter, completes a university degree but falls victim to a shocking tragedy. Cape of Storms is a shattering book that opens with a hair-raising scene in which Dasha witnesses her mother’s murder at the hands of Bolshevik thugs, and ends with the Blitzkrieg sweeping toward Paris. It is unparalleled in Berberova’s work for its many shifts of mood and viewpoint and secures the author’s place as "Chekhov’s most vital inheritor" (Boston Review).


Available: November 01 1999


The Tattered Cloak

Fiction by Nina Berberova

translated by Nina Berberova

First published in Europe in the 1930s and 40s, these searing, evocative stories by the late Russian expatriate writer Nina Berberova (1901-1993) are portraits of the lives of Russian exiles in Paris on the eve of World War II. The protagonists range from housekeepers and waiters to shabby-genteel aristocrats and intellectuals––but all are united in a haunting displacement from their pasts, and all share a troubling uncertainty about the future.


Available: June 01 2001