Winner, 2012 Northern California Book Award for Fiction in Translation
More faithful to the original text and its deeply resonant humor, this new translation of The Twelve Chairs brings Ilf and Petrov's Russian classic fully to life. The novel's iconic hero, Ostap Bender, an unemployed con artist living by his wits, joins forces with Ippolit Matveyevich Vorobyaninov, a former nobleman who has returned to his hometown to look for a cache of missing jewels hidden in chairs that have been appropriated by the Soviet authorities. The search for the chairs takes them from the provinces of Moscow to the wilds of the Transcaucasus mountains. On their quest they encounter a variety of characters, from opportunistic Soviet bureaucrats to aging survivors of the old propertied classes, each one more selfish, venal, and bungling than the last. A brilliant satire of the early years of the Soviet Union, as well as the inspiration for a Mel Brooks film, The Twelve Chairs retains its universal appeal.
Ilya Ilf Fainzilberg (1837 - 1937) and Evgeny Petrovich Kataev (1903 - 1942) met in Moscow in 1925 and wrote this novel from a plot idea suggested to them by Kataev's famous brother, the novelist Valentin. Their subsequent joint works - including The Golden Calf (1931) and One-Storey High America (1936) - were equally popular in Russia. Anne O. Fisher translated Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov's The Little Golden Calf (2009), awarded the 2011 AATSEEL Book Prize for Best Translation into English, and Ilf and Petrov's American Road Trip: The 1935 Travelogue of Two Soviet Writers (2007), short-listed for the 2007 Rossica prize. She lives in San Francisco.