"It is impossible to look at the world the same way after reading Babel" FT
Odessa was a uniquely Jewish city, and the stories of Isaac Babel - a Jewish man, writing in Russian, born in Odessa - uncover its tough underbelly. Gangsters, prostitutes, beggars, smugglers: no one escapes the pungent, sinewy force of Babel's pen.
From the tales of the magnetic cruelty of Benya Krik - infamous mob boss, and one of the great anti-heroes of Russian literature - to the devastating semi-autobiographical account of a young Jewish boy caught up in a pogrom, this collection of stories is considered one of the great masterpieces of twentieth-century Russian literature.
Translated with precision and sensitivity by Boris Dralyuk, whose rendering of the rich Odessan argot is pitch-perfect, Odessa Stories is the first ever stand-alone collection of all the stories Babel set in the city - and includes tales from the original collection as well as later ones.
Isaac Babel was a short-story writer, playwright, literary translator and journalist. He joined the Red Army as a correspondent during the Russian civil war. The first major Russian-Jewish writer to write in Russian, he was hugely popular during his lifetime. He was murdered in Stalin's purges in 1940, at the age of 45.