August 1991. In a sweltering New York City apartment, a group of Russian émigrés gathers round the deathbed of an artist named Alik, a charismatic character beloved by them all, especially the women who take turns nursing him as he fades from this world. Their reminiscences of the dying man and of their lives in Russia are punctuated by debates and squabbles: Whom did Alik love most? Should he be baptized before he dies, as his alcoholic wife, Nina, desperately wishes, or be reconciled to the faith of his birth by a rabbi who happens to be on hand? And what will be the meaning for them of the Yeltsin putsch, which is happening across the world in their long-lost Moscow but also right before their eyes on CNN?
This marvelous group of individuals inhabits the first novel by Ludmila Ulitskaya to be published in English, a book that was shortlisted for the Russian Booker Prize and has been praised wherever translated editions have appeared. Simultaneously funny and sad, lyrical in its Russian sorrow and devastatingly keen in its observation of character, The Funeral Party introduces to our shores a wonderful writer who captures, wryly and tenderly, our complex thoughts and emotions confronting life and death, love and loss, homeland and exile.
About the Author
Ludmila Ulitskaya was born in Bashkiria, in the Ural region, and was trained as a geneticist. Her novels and short stories have been published in more than twenty-five languages. She has received many awards for her writing, including the first Russian Booker Prize and the Medici Prize. She lives in Moscow.
"From the Hardcover edition."
'There was no writer like him... He made it possible to actually invent worlds, and with laughter into the bargain. This prophetic assurance was mixed with a brand-new surrealistic humour, and it was honed to hard-edged social satire, still a unique combination'. - Arthur Miller.Karel Capek (1890-1938) was one of the most original Czech writers of the 1920s and 30s, whose works were the inspiration for much of the science fiction of Europe and America. Endlessly inventive and extraordinarily prescient, full of humour and wit, his plays explore and defend man's humanity. He is known for "RUR "where the robot - an idea Capek was the first to invent - gradually takes over all aspects of human existence except procreation; "The Insect play", a satirical fable in which beetles, butterflies and ants give dramatic form to different philosophies of life; "The Makropulos Case", which examines human mortality, finally celebrating the average lifespan and "The White Plague", a savage and anguished satire against fascist dictatorship and the virus of inhumanity.
"Ludmila Ulitskaya arrives here not just as a shrewd novelist, but as a wise and evocative artist. . . . [THE FUNERAL PARTY is] quickly paced, quirkily observed and full of delicate surprises."
—Carlin Romano in the Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/4/01