In a Soviet elementary school, a bombastic teacher lectures his young students on traffic accidents and family separation, unwittingly stirring an emotional crisis. A lost wallet, an office fling, an upset stomach—the minutiae of life unveil the private tragedies at the heart of a school community.
A world away, an old herdsman entrances a young tank commander with the legend of Baron Ungern, the real-life White Russian officer who conquered Mongolia. A foggy epic unfolds, a tale of faith and revenge centering on a mysterious amulet, said to make the wearer invincible. From the dim of the classroom to the vast Mongolian steppe, Leonid Yuzefovich’s masterful novellas The Storm and Horsemen of the Sands drill straight to the core of human emotion. These Russian parables illuminate the fears, passions, and ambitions beneath the grandest acts and the tiniest gestures.
These are fitting novellas to bring to an American public...they eschew the Russian penchant for long philosophical monologues or dialogues that create philosophical debate and meaning in a work, and instead Yuzefovich opts for the more “American” style of communicating meaning through events themselves...The internal consistency of the novellas is a testament to the craft of the writer, and also to Schwartz’s translation.
Ryan K. Strader, Cleaver Magazine
[The Storm] asks readers to go beneath the surface, while [Horsemen of the Sands] opens up an unfamiliar world and invites us to think about the stories we tell. One can only hope that more of Yuzefovich’s work makes its way into English with all the speed and determination of the horsemen he chronicles.
— Yelena Furman, Los Angeles Review of Books
History and human drama collide in Leonid Yuzefovich’s Horsemen of the Sands, a wonderful tangle of relationships, religions, and realism...The prose adroitly bears both an ethereal and a concrete quality...culminating in a fascinating meditation on trickery and the power of suggestion.
— Meagan Logsdon, Foreword Reviews
Yuzefovich is an author who well knows the value of words and is firmly convinced that god is in simplicity. Despite the teeming mangyses and hubilgans here, this is high Russian prose written in superb language, very precise and lucid. “The Storm”… is stunning for its mettle, wit, and psychological acuity. Yuzefovich’s art is slicing open man’s unremarkable covering and revealing his tightly sealed safe with one light blow…
— Lev Danilkin, Afisha
Yuzefovich often takes us to Mongolia. When he writes about that country, he achieves the impossible: he knows and loves it so well and describes it so realistically that he ends up creating his own special Mongolia, a “Mongolia of the spirit.”
— Dmitry Kosyrev, RIA Novosti
Yuzefovich’s chief merit as a writer may be the author’s astoundingly warm, tender, and at the same time humor-filled attitude toward his heroes.
— Marina Abasheva, Fililog
The two novellas collected in Leonid Yuzefovich’s Horsemen of the Sands take all of Russian literature and turn it on its head. Yuzefovich can be as subtle as Chekhov or as brutal as Gogol but underneath it all is a radical vision of the political and emotional history of his country that challenges everything we think we know about that vast land.
— Joshua Furst
The Storm and Horsemen of the Sands are not fast-paced reads, but they move purposefully. The former asks readers to go beneath the surface, while the latter opens up an unfamiliar world and invites us to think about the stories we tell. One can only hope that more of Yuzefovich’s work makes its way into English with all the speed and determination of the horsemen he chronicles.
— Yelena Furman, LA Review of Books
Yuzefovich, in Marian Schwartz’s crisp and vibrant translation, is a master of the telling detail. Whether animating the vivid strangeness of childhood or illuminating the life of a Russian general in Mongolia, these stories are full of carefully calibrated observations, often tracing exuberant aspirations and tragic follies in equal measure
— Michael Holtmann, Center for the Art of Translation