33 Moments of Happiness

Ingo Schulze

Translated by John E. Woods
12 September 2013
320 pages


Each episode in this dazzling debut collection captures the spark in some tiny detail of everyday life in contemporary St Petersburg and fans it into a story that flares with comedy, surreal passion, heartbreaking indifference and mad Russian excess. There’s a Mafia shoot-out in a disco, as told by a gun-toting Walter Mitty simultaneously thrilled and horrified by the carnage he is creating. There are three devils who appear for an evening at the steam bath, their revelries ending in cannibalism – or is the watching manager just mad?

These are sad, whimsical, macabre, bleakly funny stories, all told in a playful and voluptuous prose that is itself a homage to the great Russian masters whom Schulze is honouring – from Gogol to Pasternak, from Chekhov to Nabokov.