The Supervisor of the Sea & Other Stories
ISBN 1-879478-47-7 (paper)
149 pages, $15; Kindle edition, $4.99
Reviews | Story Titles
Emil Draitser has been publishing both fiction and nonfiction since 1965. Under his pen name "Emile Abramov," his work appeared in leading Soviet Russian journals (Youth, Literary Gazette and Crocodile among the best known). In 1974, blacklisted by the Soviet literary establishment for a satire on one of its members, he took advantage of the Jewish immigration and came to the US, where his short stories and collections of humor quickly won him wide acclaim. Supervisor of the Sea presents his longer and more serious stories in a sequence that moves from Russia to America to the fantastic beyond. Professor Draitser teaches at Hunter College in New York City.
Critical praise for Emil Draitser's work:
"What a cross-country flight I had reading Emil Draitser's collection of fourteen short stories! I forgot the stale pretzels and cuplet of 7-Up served by the airline for lunch. The writer lifts off simply, rides out the turbulence and soars to a higher altitude...
"His stories often have a mysterious figure, such as the boy "Immersed in the melancholy of childhood" in "Islands"; or the Postman of Odessa in "The Supervisor of the Sea," who advises a Muscovite anxious about the loss of his train ticket home, that he should go to the beach and "breathe the sea air." Losing something, he tells him, "means that happiness is waiting... somewhere and has already given a sign of its coming.
"Draitser mixes such messages of hope with cruelties of life in his stories."
~ Kaye Bache-Snyder, Small Press Review November-December 2003
"Russian literautre has never known such a book. In Draitser's stories, America and Russia are whimsically yet inseparably intertwined. Draitser's humor is so deeply philosophical that the reader doesn't notice at times where the comedy ends and the tragedy begins."
~ World Literature Today
"In fourteen short stories Draitser creates portraits of families, communities, and individuals lost in worlds beyond their understanding. Whether it is the overwhelmed guest at a boisterous Brighton Beach wedding ("Wedding in Brighton Beach") or the inhabitant of a fictitious island, lonely to the point of hallucination ("Islands"), Draitser's characters experience alienation both from their surroundings and from themselves in unique and paradigmatic ways.
There are [also] psychological sketches as brief, lyrical and melancholy as Chekhov's. Characters experience nostalgia for things that never were, and, as in "The Little Thread," are saddened or perplexed by their sudden encounters with happiness or beauty.
But Draitser's stories have a wide range of mood and emotion. In the most upbeat story in the collection, "Wedding in Brighton Beach," the narrative seethes and surges, mimicking the lavish, uproarious Russian-Jewish émigré weddings its narrator describes.
The Supervisor of the Sea is a valuable contribution to contemporary Russian émigré literature and will be of interest to students and scholars of this literary period, as well as to fans of beautifully wrought contemporary short fiction."
~ Sarah Valentine, University of California, Los Angeles
"Draitser transforms an event into a story, and his method, which he has brought to mastery, consists in taking a situation to the point of absurdity and then making this absurdity a reality... Draitser's language is precise and expansive, his storyline is meticulously designed, his colors are rich."
~ Novoye Russkoye Slovo
(The New Russian Word), New York
Stories from Supervisor of the Sea:
Islands Clouds The Supervisor of the Sea The Little Thread
American Lady Faithful Masha Dvorkin Wedding in Brighton Beach Messages from Zoya Beginner's Luck It's Not a Simple Thing
The Sun Was Shining Zugzwang Directions
Author Emil Draitser
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