The writer and satirist Teffi was a literary sensation in Russia until war and revolution forced her to leave her country for ever. Memories is her blackly funny and heartbreaking account of her final, frantic journey into exile across Russia-travelling by cart, freight train and rickety steamer-and the 'ordinary and unheroic' people she encounters.
From refugees setting up camp on a dockside to a singer desperately buying a few 'last scraps' of fabric to make a dress, all are caught up in the whirlwind; all are immortalized by Teffi's penetrating gaze. This is a portrayal of what it means to say goodbye, with haunting relevance in today's new age of diaspora.
Published in English for the first time, it confirms the rediscovery of Teffi as one of the most humane, perceptive observers of her time, and an essential writer for ours.
BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK
'Wonderfully idiosyncratic, coolly heartfelt and memorable' - William Boyd
'I never imagined such a memoir could be possible... enthralling' - Antony Beevor
'A vividly idiosyncratic personal account of the disintegration of Tsarist Russia after the Revolution, as alive to the farcical and the ridiculous as it is to the tragic; a bit like what Chekhov might have written if he had lived to experience it' - Michael Frayn
About the Author and Translators
Teffi (1872-1952) wrote poems, plays, stories, satires and feuilletons, and was renowned in Russia for her wit and powers of observation. Following her emigration in 1919 she settled in Paris, where she became a leading figure in the émigré literary scene. Her work was translated into English for the first time by Irina Steinberg, who was born in Moscow but emigrated to England with her family at the age of eight. Robert and Elizabeth Chandler are a husband-and-wife translation team and Robert is particularly well known for his translations of Vasily Grossman and Andrey Platonov. Anne Marie Jackson is a literary translator and works exclusively from Russian into English. Irina Steinberg was born in Moscow but emigrated to England with her family at the age of eight and now lives in London. She is a co-translator of Teffi’s Subtly Worded and Other Stories.