Leonid Tsypkin’s novel Summer in Baden-Baden was hailed as an undiscovered classic of 20th-century Russian literature. The Washington Post claimed it “a chronicle of fevered genius,” and The New York Review of Books described it as “gripping, mysterious and profoundly moving.” In her introduction, Susan Sontag said: “If you want from one book an experience of the depth and authority of Russian literature, read this book.”
At long last, here are the remaining writings of Leonid Tsypkin: in the powerful novella Bridge Over the Neroch, the history of four generations of a Russian-Jewish family is seen through the lens of a doctor living in Moscow. In Norartakir, a husband and wife on vacation in Armenia bask in the view of Mt. Ararat and the ancient history of the land, until they are unceremoniously kicked out of their hotel and returned to Soviet reality. The remaining stories offer knowing windows into Soviet urban life. As the translator Jamey Gambrell says in her preface: “For Tsypkin’s narrator, history is a tightrope to be walked every minute of every day, in both his internal and external world.”
A hundred years later, in his solitary underground in Brezhnev’s Moscow, Dostoevsky’s devoted reader, the good doctor Tsypkin, crafted his own small literary oeuvre of astonishing originality.
—Rachel Polonsky, The New York Review of Books
Masterful novellas … great tragic and artistic force.
Extraordinary…Tsypkin turns out to have been a magnificent writer.
—Jonathan Rosen, The New York Times
Winding, twisting, poetic sentences of almost unsurpassable beauty…wove out of often far from beautiful material. They compose a small body of work that stands with the very best of world literature.
There is no prose quite like Tsypkin’s. Inside his dependent clauses, nested in his parentheses, the past is preserved, intact, contemporary with the present. The effect is vertiginous and profoundly moving.