Secondhand Time

Too pedestrian a translation? Too weak a reader? Too complex a story for the writer? Whatever the reason(s), Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexiyevich tastes like a cake with insufficiently-mixed ingredients. It's a collection of commentary from 1991-2012, after the breakdown of the Soviet Union. Much deep bitterness, some happy humor, many likely lies. A sampler:

Alexiyevich makes mosaics with lovely stones but — unlike Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn — they don't seem to form a coherent image when one steps back. Or in Category Theory symbolism, A → B , maybe the problem is within the A, or the B , or the arrow ...

(cf Great Writers (2003-01-02), Arkhipelag Gulag (2008-08-04), ...) - ^z - 2020-05-17