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Odessa was a uniquely Jewish city, and the stories of Isaac Babel – a Jewish man, writing in Russian, born in Odessa – uncover its tough underbelly. Gangsters, prostitutes, beggars, smugglers: no one escapes the pungent, sinewy force of Babel’s pen.
From the tales of the magnetic cruelty of Benya Krik – infamous mob boss, and one of the great anti-heroes of Russian literature – to the devastating semi-autobiographical account of a young Jewish boy caught up in a pogrom, this collection of stories is considered one of the great masterpieces of twentieth-century Russian literature.
Translated with precision and sensitivity by Boris Dralyuk, whose rendering of the rich Odessan argot is pitch-perfect, Odessa Stories is the first ever stand-alone collection of all the stories Babel set in the city – and includes tales from the original collection as well as later ones.