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Apricot Jam: And Other Stories [Kindle Edition]

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

After years of living in exile, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia in 1994 and published a series of eight powerfully paired stories. These groundbreaking stories— interconnected and juxtaposed using an experimental method Solzhenitsyn referred to as “binary”—join Solzhenitsyn’s already available work as some of the most powerful literature of the twentieth century.

With Soviet and post-Soviet life as their focus, they weave and shift inside their shared setting, illuminating the Russian experience under the Soviet regime. In “The Upcoming Generation,” a professor promotes a dull but proletarian student purely out of good will. Years later, the same professor finds himself arrested and, in a striking twist of fate, his student becomes his interrogator. In “Nastenka,” two young women with the same name lead routine, ordered lives—until the Revolution exacts radical change on them both.

The most eloquent and acclaimed opponent of government oppression, Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970, and his work continues to receive international acclaim. Available for the first time in English, Apricot Jam: And Other Stories is a striking example of Solzhenitsyn’s singular style and only further solidifies his place as a true literary giant.

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Apricot Jam

"A haunting meditation on [Solzenhitsyn's] lifetime’s dominant theme . . . Solzhenitsyn writes in bracing prose, eschewing artifice." —Financial Times

"The best stories in this collection stand among Solzhenitsyn’s best work, and present a depth seldom found in the short story form . . . these latest stories are a significant contribution to his work available in English." —Full-Stop.net

"Via fiction he interrogates history, and reveals truth." —RIA Novosti

Review

Praise for Apricot Jam

"A haunting meditation on [Solzenhitsyn's] lifetime’s dominant theme . . . Solzhenitsyn writes in bracing prose, eschewing artifice." —Financial Times

"The best stories in this collection stand among Solzhenitsyn’s best work, and present a depth seldom found in the short story form . . . these latest stories are a significant contribution to his work available in English." —Full-Stop.net

"Via fiction he interrogates history, and reveals truth." —RIA Novosti

Product Details

  • File Size: 604 KB
  • Print Length: 385 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0857863185
  • Publisher: Counterpoint (September 1, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005JSF2IS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,741 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solzhenitsyn at his best September 5, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
These late two part short stories (binary tales) are the best things that Solzhenitsyn wrote in the last twenty years of his life. Stories such as Apricot JAM, EGO, and THE NEW GENERATION capture the atmosphere of oppression and mendacity under "really-existing socialism" as well as anything Solzhenitsyn ever wrote. The writing is clear, taut, and eloquent and captures the attention of the reader from beginning to end. The curious language and syntax in the first story that a previous reviewer refers to occurs in a brief LETTER that a kulak sends to a fellow-travelling Writer. If the reviewer had read on he would have immediately appreciated that Solzhenitsyn had not lost his touch and has an unusually powerful command of language and the sheer expressiveness of the human soul.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fabulous storytelling April 3, 2012
By John
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This collection of "binary" short stories by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is fabulous.

The stories are: Apricot Jam, Ego, The New Generation, Nastenka, Adlig Schwenkitten, Zhelyabuga Village, Times of Crisis, Fracture Points, No Matter What. Solzhenitsyn wrote the stories between his return to Russia in 1994 and his death in 2008.

The general concept of the "binary" stories is that there is an old story and a new story and they are linked somehow.

All of the stories are studies of the Soviet mindset. Misguided people interact with dishonest people and the result is tragedy.

The quality of the writing is superb. And, the fact that these are short stories each fit for an interesting evening of reading makes the thematic content conveniently accessible.

I highly recommend this for all people interested in Russia.

John Christmas, author of "Democracy Society"
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forgive, but never forget. And then, don't forgive. March 8, 2012
Format:Hardcover
We all have those inner albums of mental photographs taken at some moment of emotional impact, some event that knocks you out of your comfort zone and on your ear...Kennedy's assassination, the launching of the first Sputnik, 9/11. I remember where I was when I read the last words of Solzhenitsyn's "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch" -- words so cold and so bleak, they are not just devoid of hope but a great black hole where all hope dies.

Apricot Jam is evocative of that power. Solzenhitsen lulls us with simple story telling until we find outselves standing with our toes at the edge of an abyss, looking into the dark, and trying to find a reason to lean backwards. The stories are not nearly as powerful as "A Day in the Life," where we survive just one day in the thousands that Ivan Shukof will survive. But all the short stories here point in the same direction. What do we learn from Ivan, that wily zek, who doesn't give up and doesn't compromise his humanity? What precept is to be discerned when ordinary souls don't succumb to despair and just keep struggling and slogging onward? Not a one. Zip, nada, nothing. The only moral here is: Struggle all you want, retain your noble soul. That and a buck will get you a cup of coffee. Deal with it.

These short stories don't have the unforgettable impact of "Day," the reader is not left sucker punched and on the canvas; but like Solzenitsyn's greatest books, they have that same powerful simplicity and beautifully wrought sense of loss and hopelessness -- but without any trace of pity or pathos. Apricot Jam gives us that sense of claustrophobia and futility, of swimming upstream, that must be the daily burden carried by all intelligent people who live under a repressive regime.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful March 1, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read the Gulag Archipelago after graduating high school in 1977. It took me a few years to read all three volumes but it was well worth the effort. To this day, I think of it everytime I eat soup. If you have read it, you will understand (in much the same way, drinking coffee reminds me of Aharon Appelfeld novels). After reading The Gulag I went on to First Circle and Cancer Ward (I started of course with One Day).

Apricot Jam is as good as his earlier works. The stories are powerful and clear-sighted portrayals of the struggle for just a simple life under totalitarian tyranny. And that is really the horror of tyranny. You can't even lead a simple, quiet life while under the thumb of totalitarianism.

Solzhenytsin is a treasure.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Of the nine stories in this collection, eight were first published in Novy Mir during the period 1993 to 1998; i.e. from shortly before until four years after Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia from his 20 year exile in western Europe and America. Rather than representing a great burst of creative energy following his return to his homeland, Solzhenitsyn biographer Michael Scammell, writing in the New York Review of Books, thinks that much of it is "reconditioned leftovers from longer works", especially the unfinished novel Love the Revolution and The Red Wheel novels, which Solzhenitsyn reluctantly set aside after a mere seven volumes.

Be that as it may, I am less critical of the stories (and their translators) than Scammell. Granted, none of them reaches the story-telling height of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, and none can have the impact of revelation that Ivan Denisovich did, but there is much worthwhile material here, and it only occasionally drifts into the slower-moving margins of Solzhenitsyn's broad river.

Most of the stories deal with Soviet times, predominantly with the early post-Revolutionary period; the Civil War, the Tambov Rebellion, the Kulak purge, the Terror Famine (peripherally), and the Second World War. Several offer a wide time-span, covering two or more of those periods, and in some cases a more recent period too, even post Soviet in a couple of cases.

Comparing Solzhenitsyn's own war record with the incidents in Adlig Schwenkitten and Zhelyabuga Village, it appears that those two stories are primarily autobiographical.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars First of his books
I know, I should read Gulag. I will. But I saw this on sale and so I bought it. And have been absolutely enraptured with his prose and his style. Read more
Published 2 months ago by BronxRev
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book, Bad Title
"Apricot Jam and Other Stories" is a great collection with a misleading title, suggesting as it does lazy domestic tales and failing to describe these action stories set during the... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Nicholas Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Adlig Schwenkitten
I've only read through the above story (170 pgs.), but want to say a couple of things. Luigi (1 star reviewer) should have kept reading the first story. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Gordon A. FitzGerald
5.0 out of 5 stars Solzhenitsyn will live forever
I really enjoyed the stories in this book. As someone who was raised in a communist country it made me remember how the communists think, act and treat people.
Published on November 5, 2011 by Marie-Michelle
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally something new to read from A. I. Solzhenitsyn
I have never understood why it is so difficult to have Solzhenitsyn's work published in English.

As with all his other works made available to us the Binary Tales have... Read more
Published on November 5, 2011 by DanM
1.0 out of 5 stars Of limited historical value only
As someone who actually got halfway through "August 1914" and greatly enjoyed Solzhenitsyn's previous Nobel prize winning work, finding a set of posthumous short stories was a... Read more
Published on August 30, 2011 by Luigi Facotti
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