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Cover for Pu-239 and Other Russian Fantasies

Pu-239 and Other Russian Fantasies

A Novella and Stories

Ken Kalfus


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Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (2/1/2011)
Paperback (12/1/2000)


The acclaimed short story and novella collection by "a virtuoso of the dismal comedy of Soviet life"--and the basis for the HBO film PU-239 (The New York Times). A PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist.

Ken Kalfus traverses a century of Russian history in tales that range from hair-raising to comic to fabulous. The astonishing title story follows a doomed nuclear power plant worker as he attempts to hawk plutonium in Moscow's black market. In "Budyonnovsk," a young man hopes that the takeover of his town by Chechen rebels will somehow save his marriage. Salt is an economic fairy tale, featuring kings, princesses, and swiftly melting currencies.

Set in the 1920s, "Birobidzhan" is the bittersweet story of a Jewish couple journeying to the Soviet Far East, where they intend to establish the modern world's first Jewish state. The novella, "Peredelkino," which closes the book, traces the fortunes of a 1960s literary apparatchik whose romantic intrigues inadvertently become political.

Together, these works of fiction capture the famously enigmatic Russian psyche. They display Kalfus' ability to imagine a variety of believable yet wholly singular characters whose lives percolate against a backdrop of momentous events.

Milkweed Editions, 9781571310293, 272pp.

Publication Date: August 18, 1999