Teniu Wang Wang de Savchyns'ke, Odessa Oblast, Ukraine
There's a lot to be said for the work of Isaac Babel. Not only did he write at a time when great political forces were at work, and not only did he get a chance to participate directly in one of the greatest of these forces, the Red Army, but Babel's prose style, which combines coolly analytical description with just a touch of the surreal - especially when it comes to the violence of the Russian Revolution - fit his times exceptionally well. Or so you could say of the later work in this book. The earlier work, which plays off of Jewish folk tales and mysticism in general, is a whole other breed, and equally worthy of critical attention. In short, an excellent collection that I think is essential for anyone interested in the historical period, whether from a literary or a political perspective.