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Lame Fate | Ugly Swans
Lame Fate | Ugly Swans

Lame Fate | Ugly Swans

By Arkady Strugatsky, Afterword by Boris Strugatsky, Translated by Maya Vinokour

Rediscovered Classics


400 Pages, 5.5 x 8.5

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $18.99 (CA $25.99) (US $18.99)

Publication Date: August 2020

ISBN 9781641600712

Rights: US, CA & MX

Chicago Review Press (Aug 2020)

Price: $18.99


These chilling and moving nested novels offer insight into a period of enforced silence

Never before translated into English, Lame Fate is the first-person account of middle-aged author Felix Sorokin. When the Soviet Writers' Union asks him to submit a writing sample to a newfangled machine that can supposedly evaluate the "objective value" of any literary work, he faces a dilemma. Should he present something establishment-approved but middling, or risk sharing his unpublished masterpiece, which has languished in his desk drawer for years? Sorokin's masterwork is Ugly Swans, previously published in English as a standalone work but presented here in an authoritative new translation. Ugly Swans chronicles the travails of disgraced literary celebrity Victor Banev, who returns to his provincial hometown to find it haunted by the mysterious clammies—black-masked men residing in a former leper colony. Possessing supernatural talents, including the ability to control the weather, the clammies terrify the town's adult population but enthrall its teenagers, including Banev's daughter Irma. Together, Lame Fate and Ugly Swans illuminate some of the Strugatskys' favorite themes—the (im)possibility of political progress, the role of the individual in society, the nature of honor and courage, and the enduring value of art—in consummately entertaining fashion.


"Founded, like the best of their work, on a tantalizingly glimpsed hypothesis rather than reams of science-fiction explanations." —Kirkus Reviews on the previous English translation of Ugly Swans 

Author Biography

Arkady (1925–1991) and Boris (1933–2012) Strugatsky were the most famous and popular Russian writers of science fiction, with over 25 novels and novellas to their names, including Roadside Picnic, The Doomed City, Hard to Be a God, and The Inhabited Island. Their books have been widely translated and made into a number of films. Translator Maya Vinokour is assistant professor in the department of Russian and Slavic studies at NYU and an award-winning translator. Her translations have appeared in the New Yorker, Fence, Columbia Journal, and World Literature Today.