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Sergei Dovlatov (1941–1990)

Author of The Suitcase

123+ Works 1,243 Members 39 Reviews 9 Favorited

About the Author

Dovlatov, who studied at Leningrad University, worked for a while as a journalist in Tallinn, Estonia. His fiction was unpublished in the Soviet Union, but he was active in unofficial literary life and was forced to leave in 1978 for publishing satirical fiction in Samizdat. After settling in the show more United States, he co-founded a Russian-language newspaper, worked as a broadcaster for Radio Liberty in New York City, and published both in major Russian emigre publications and in the U.S. press (he wrote short stories for The New Yorker). Among his books, known for their irreverent views of Soviet reality, are the autobiographical The Compromise (1981) and Ours (1983). When Dovlatov died, his works were being reissued and favorably received in Russia. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Works by Sergei Dovlatov

The Suitcase (1986) 306 copies
The Compromise (1983) 165 copies
Pushkin Hills (1983) 148 copies
Ours (1983) 85 copies
A Foreign Woman (1987) 85 copies
Il libro invisibile (1979) 28 copies
La filiale (2006) 28 copies
Oficio (2000) 13 copies
Domein (2020) 11 copies
La marcia dei solitari (2006) 11 copies
El recull (1900) 6 copies
Ремесло (1985) 6 copies
De vreemdelinge (2022) 5 copies
L'ofici (Resmeló). (2018) 5 copies
Kompromissi (2021) 5 copies
Kovčeg (2013) 4 copies
Retiro (2017) 4 copies
Т. 3 (2003) 4 copies
Puskin Tepeleri (2016) 4 copies
Taccuini (2016) 3 copies
[Т.] 1 (1995) 3 copies
Т. 1 (2003) 3 copies
Bavul (2022) 3 copies
Т. 2 (2002) 3 copies
Maloizvestnyi Dovlatov (1995) 3 copies
Puskinova brda (2018) 2 copies
La Filiale (2019) 2 copies
Le domaine Pouchkine (2022) 2 copies
[Т.] 3 (1995) 2 copies
[Т.] 2 (1995) 2 copies
Ischu cheloveka (2016) 2 copies
Tsoon ; Kohver (2014) 2 copies
Rasskazy iz chemodana. (2014) 1 copy
Remeslo 1 copy
Predstavlenie Rasskazy (2013) 1 copy
Straniera 1 copy
Mars usamljenih (2022) 1 copy
Zona (2022) 1 copy
Brodksy et les Autres (2003) 1 copy
Dve Povesti (1991) 1 copy
" Rasskazy". 1 copy
A mala 1 copy
La Valise (2021) 1 copy
Predstavlenie (2007) 1 copy
Наши (2000) 1 copy
[Т.] 1 1 copy
Избранное (2005) 1 copy
Beležnice 1 copy
Solo na IBM-u (2020) 1 copy
Zanat (2020) 1 copy
Spomen muzej (2013) 1 copy
La maleta 1 copy

Associated Works

Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida (2005) — Contributor — 223 copies
Sudden Fiction International: Sixty Short-Short Stories (1989) — Contributor — 212 copies
Wisdom and Wit (Chtenia: Readings from Russia, 16) (2011) — Contributor — 1 copy


Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Dovlatov, Sergei
Legal name
Довлатов-Мечник, Сергей Донатович
Dovlatov-Mechnik, Sergei Donatovich
Date of death
Burial location
Mount Hebron Cemetery, New York, New York, USA
Country (for map)
Ufa, Republic of Bashkiria, USSR
Place of death
New York, New York, USA
Places of residence
Leningrad, Russia, USSR
Tallinn, Estonia, USSR
New York, New York, USA
Chiniavoryk, Komi Republic, USSR
Pushkin Hills, Russia, USSR
Leningrad State University (Nongrad|Finnish)
Leningrad State University (Diplom|Journalism)
security guard
museum tour guide
Writer's Union of the USSR
The New Yorker
Short biography
Unable to publish freely in the Soviet Union, Sergei Dovlatov circulated his writings through "samizdat" (underground) press, and had them smuggled into Western Europe for publication in foreign journals.  These activities caused his expulsion from the USSR in 1976. A few years later, he was able to emigrate with his family to the USA, where his sly, humorous stories became popular in The New Yorker magazine.  He also co-edited "The New American," a liberal Russian-language émigré newspaper.



Instead of the usual disclaimer, Dovlatov wrote:

"The names, events, and dates given here are all real. I invented only those details that were not essential.

Therefore, any resemblance between the characters in this book and living people is intentional and malicious. And all the fictionalizing was unexpected and accidental."

In the sixties Dovlatov had dropped out of university and been drafted into the Soviet Internal Troops to work as a prison guard in high security camps. Unlike the camps for political prisoners that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote about, these camps are for criminals. They are so isolated and remote that the guards, as well as the criminals, are effectively serving a sentence. Distinctions between guards and prisoners break down.

The book is a series of first-person narrations by various guards, who appear in each other's stories from different perspectives. What they all have in common is a bleak and sardonic humour. Interspersed with the guard's narrations are letters written by the author to his New York publisher. The book is coming along in fits and starts as random sections are smuggled out from the USSR. The author's works have never been published there and have circulated in samizdat. Parts have been lost, and the author discusses with the publisher how he will manage the gaps. He talks about what he will include and what he will leave out, and his writing philosophy.

It took me a while to get into The Zone, but once I did I found it well worth the trouble. It's Dovlatov's world view that makes it fascinating.
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pamelad | 2 other reviews | Jul 24, 2023 |
Most entertaining book I've read in a long while.
mkfs | 15 other reviews | Aug 13, 2022 |
Hmm. Had ik de recensie meteen na de laatste bladzijde geschreven, dan hadden er 4 sterren gestaan. Maar hoe langer ik er op terugblik, hoe indrukwekkender dit schijnbaar eenvoudige boekje is.

Domein werpt een korte blik op een cruciale fase in het leven van een ongepubliceerd schrijver in de Sovjetunie eind jaren '70. Hij start met een baan als gids op het domein waar Poesjkin resideerde en talrijke Russen als toerist naartoe trekken. Zijn vrouw wil met zijn dochter het land uit vluchten maar hij kan zijn moedertaal niet achterlaten. Heil zoekt hij in het glas, met alle gevolgen van dien.

In een vlotte, droge en snelle stijl neemt Dovlatov je mee naar de vuile kroegen waar de schrijver zich bedrinkt en in strakke penschetsen of spitse dialogen zie je de achterliggende tragiek van mensen die gebukt gaan onder het Sovjetregime.
Dat is wat er langzaam bezinkt, na het lezen van Domein: alles wat Dovlatov je niet rechtstreeks vertelt; maar wat in dialogen doorschemert, uit anekdotes afgeleid kan worden of wat je onderhuids aanvoelt.
Dat is de 5de ster die de dag nadien zijn recht begint op te eisen: hoeveel rijkdom Dovlatov in een korte, krachtige en heldere roman gestoken heeft, hoeveel er tussen de lijnen geschreven staat en wat je als lezer spontaan aanvoelt.
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GertDeBie | Mar 22, 2021 |
Doblatov is a writer of my favored kind. He is sharp, witty and funny. The contents of his book are taken from the author's life, which, like many others in Soviet Russia, are not easy, to say the least, and especially those who oppose the regime and have to maneuver between their faith and their opinion and reality. What helped a lot in dealing with the conflicts was alcohol, the cheapest type made in Russia or foreign products, from another Communist source like Romania for example. Most of the text conducted between drunken periods. Although the stories in the book are not simple and describe a depressing reality, I found myself bursting out laughing because humor, as we all know, is an excellent tool for dealing with trouble. The stories took place in the 1960s when the gates of Russia opened somewhat to immigrants. Devaltov, who was able to take advantage of this opportunity, chose to remain in Russia, while his wife and daughter had emigrated to America and he joined them only later. The first story of the book described the period during his wife's migration when they separated, and he moved away to a reserve that was a museum dedicated to Pushkin and served there as a tour guide. There is something in this reserve (which exists in reality) that symbolizes the whole of Russia and the different ways that people have found to deal with life there.

The second story is a collection of beautiful stories, all related. They, too, are taken directly from Dovlatov's life.
Each story based on an item that was in the pantry with which he eventually emigrated to the United States.
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Ramonremires | 15 other reviews | Feb 24, 2019 |



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