We are thrilled to announce a special evening of literary translation of a Russian masterpiece! Bryan Karetnyk joins us to speak about Deceit and the task of bringing this book to English-speaking audiences. To top it off, he’ll be in conversation with Alex Pheby, author of the celebrated novels Mordew and Malarkoi.
Appearing for the first time in English, Deceit is the debut novel by Yuri Felsen, a leading modernist writer of the interwar Russian diaspora. Known by his contemporaries as ‘the Russian Proust’, Felsen died in the gas chambers at Auschwitz, his life and legacy destroyed by the Nazis.
Written in the form of diary, Deceit is a psychological self-portrait of an unnamed narrator, a neurasthenic and aspiring author, whose often-thwarted pursuits of his love interest and muse provide the grounds for his beautifully wrought extemporizations on love, art and human nature. Modulating between the paroxysms of his tormented romance and his quest for an aesthetic mode befitting of the novel he intends to write, Deceit is a remarkable work of introspective depth and psychoanalytic inquiry.
Quite unlike any other writer in the Russian canon, Felsen evokes in rich, poetic, idiosyncratic prose not only the Zeitgeist of interwar Europe and his émigré milieu, but also its psychology and the existential crisis of the age. What Nabokov achieves with images and the physical world, Felsen does with the emotional and metaphysical.
Bryan Karetnyk is an award-winning British writer, critic and translator. His recent translations from the Russian include major works by Gaito Gazdanov, Irina Odoevtseva, Boris Poplavsky and Yuri Felsen. He is the editor and principal translator of the landmark Penguin Classics anthology Russian Émigré Short Stories from Bunin to Yanovsky and is a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement and the Financial Times. Twitter: @Bryan_S_K.
Alex Pheby is a British author and academic. He is currently a professor at Newcastle University and lives in Scotland. He studied at Manchester University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Goldsmiths. and UEA.