Bera and Cucumber is a series of eight linked short stories. The links between them are manifold and include emigration to Israel and elsewhere, the Old Testament, and the sea. However, by far the main connection is the cosmopolitan city of Odesa, specifically the Jewish quarter, with its many and varied inhabitants and their professions, both legal and illicit. There are also many references to the famous landmarks of the city, as well as its trams, shops and suburbs.
The language of these stories, which are here translated into English for the first time, mixes Russian, Ukrainian, Yiddish, Hebrew and the unique Odesa dialect. In the title story Korotko even invents a language, possibly to represent what the latter sounds like to a non-Odesite.
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Michael Pursglove (born 22 September 1944) is a retired Senior Lecturer in Modern Languages at Exeter University. He was educated at Bradford Grammar School, King’s College Cambridge and New College, Oxford. He also taught at the universities of Ulster, Reading and Bath. He has published, as translator or co-translator, eleven book-length translations, including five novels and a volume of short stories by Turgenev and, most recently, the Ukrainian novels Children of Grad, O Venice, and Alexander Korotko’s Moon Boy. He has also written widely on literature and translation issues, most recently in East-West Review. His published translations of poetry include works by Pushkin, Lermontov, Turgenev, Akhmatova and Mandelshtam.