MATTHEW JAKUBOWSKI is a fiction writer and literary critic. His short fiction can be found in 3:AM Magazine, Great Jones Street, and gorse, among others. He has served as a fiction judge for the Best Translated Book Award and interviews editor for Asymptote. He lives in West Philadelphia.
This collection of 31 pieces by newly-translated writers and well-known authors, plus photos and copies of Communist-era surveillance reports, doesnt focus on Berlin. As Keith Gessen notes in his breezy introduction, these voices come from the entire multifarious universe of former Soviet Bloc countries, and the complexity of that universe gets full respect from the books editors, Words Without Borders.
On the trolley, blessed with a seat, or suffering on my feet in the aisle, I sigh and glance. The doors inhale hot breeze. The crowd shifts shape, bags and faces, outfits and moods.