The Land of Stone Flowers by Sveta Dorosheva, is a satirical collection of exquisite, intricately illustrated stories in which gnomes and other mythical beings share tales of the strange and unbelievable human world and its inhabitants. It’s filled with keen observations and wild assumptions on human anatomy, customs, languages, dwellings, and more—it’s as absurd as it is astounding, examining contradictory and nonsensical human behaviors through the lens of the fantastic. The Land of Stone Flowers draws readers into a world of fantasy and fable that slyly reveals many hidden truths about our human existence.
Translator Jane Bugaeva is eager to share her uniquely challenging experience of taking this work from the Russian to English—from her collaboration with Dorosheva, who crafted new illustrations for certain English passages to better reflect their idiomatic nature, to her approach to translating (or rather, re-inventing) character names, allusions, puns, and word-play.
From Land of Stone Flowers:
“In the human world, small, colorful papers with portraits of powerful witches and wizards have tremendous value. In and of themselves they’re useless, but they can always be exchanged for something useful. This is because humans believe that these papers are almighty. Once they get a hold of the papers, humans immediately fall captive to the wizards. The wizards take pleasure in deluding humans to the point that they can’t think of anything besides the soul-chilling portraits. They forget to live and only work, work, work to get more of the magical papers. They begin to think that possessing them is the most important thing.”
Jane Bugaeva emigrated to the United States from Russia at the age of six. Forever a child at heart, she translates Russian children’s literature, as well as poetry and illustrated works for all ages. Her translations include Anna Starobinets’ first two books of the four-part children’s series Beastly Crimes: In the Wolf’s Lair and A Predator’s Rights are available form Dover Publications; and Catlantis from Pushkin Press and NYRB Children’s. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and daughter.